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Omicron COVID-19 variant reaches Arizona

Since it reached the U.S. just over a week ago, the omicron coronavirus variant has spread to at least 20 states.

Now, the Arizona Department of Health Services and Yavapai County Community Health Services in north-central Arizona have confirmed the first known omicron case in the state.

Much remains unknown about the variant, but experts believe it spreads more readily than pre-delta coronavirus variants.

Hear Will Humble discuss the omicron variant with Host Lauren Gilger on The Show

covid-omicron-show-lg-20211209.mp3

Some early, non-peer-reviewed studies suggest vaccines might not offer as much protection against omicron infection but will still fulfill their key roles of protecting against severe illness, hospitalization and death.

Health officials say omicron’s emergence underlines the importance of vaccinations, boosters and basic precautions like masks, hygiene and distancing.

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Nicholas Gerbis joined KJZZ’s Arizona Science Desk in 2016. A longtime science, health and technology journalist and editor, his extensive background in related nonprofit and science communications inform his reporting on Earth and space sciences, neuroscience and behavioral health, and bioscience/biotechnology.Apart from travel and three years in Delaware spent earning his master’s degree in physical geography (climatology), Gerbis has spent most of his life in Arizona. He also holds a master’s degree in journalism and mass communication from Arizona State University’s Cronkite School and a bachelor’s degree in geography (climatology/meteorology), also from ASU.Gerbis briefly “retired in reverse” and moved from Arizona to Wisconsin, where he taught science history and science-fiction film courses at University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. He is glad to be back in the Valley and enjoys contributing to KJZZ’s Untold Arizona series.During the COVID-19 pandemic, Gerbis focused almost solely on coronavirus-related stories and analysis. In addition to reporting on the course of the disease and related research, he delved into deeper questions, such as the impact of shutdowns on science and medicine, the roots of vaccine reluctance and the policies that exacerbated the virus’s impact, particularly on vulnerable populations.