One scenario for Omicron

That is the theme of my latest Bloomberg column, here is one excerpt:

How will institutions react to a proliferation of cases?

Imagine that a significant percentage of students in a school test positive, but no one is seriously ill. Will that school feel compelled to shut down and move to remote learning?

One possibility is that administrators will realize that virtually everyone is going to catch omicron anyway, articulate that reality to their constituencies, and plough ahead with face-to-face instruction. An alternate scenario is that the mere mention of Covid will prove so scary that closure will be inevitable. After all, how much will be known a month or two from now about the prospects of getting Long Covid from omicron? I am expecting a lot of school closures.

Another habit that will be hard to break is tracking the severity of the virus by counting cases. Until now, cases have been pretty good predictors of subsequent hospitalizations and then deaths. If cases become more detached from bad outcomes, will institutions and authorities be able to respond rapidly to that new reality? By the time they adjust, if they do, omicron might have come and gone.

To those who are inclined to worry, it will be scary how quickly omicron cases accumulate. It might feel as if the apocalypse has arrived, even if a lot of that short-term case activity is simply an acceleration of illness rather than an increase in the year’s total. (How scared would we get if most of the year’s murders happened in the first six or eight weeks of the year?) In any case, hospitals will have to be ready. But it is likely that a lot of health-care professionals might test positive early next year as well.

There is much more at the link.


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