- Stephen Des Georges
Coronavirus’ many faces – beta, delta and omicron. No time for COVID complacency
By Stephen Des Georges
Desert Haven Home Care and Apollo Residential Assisted Living provides residents with high-quality supervision and treatment reflective of its proprietary three cornerstones of managed care for seniors: meaningful, patient-centered care, best-class service and passionate advocacy. Healthcare professionals at each residence are knowledgeable and respected servants, familiar with the latest evidence-based research and outcomes. It is our privilege to regularly share with you timely and topical insights into issues that impact elderly loved ones. In this installment, the very real threat from COVID-19 and its variants is reviewed, along with a reminder that we are far from safe from the disease – without the proper precautions.
We have been living with the COVID-19 coronavirus for two years. Living and dying. The insidious disease shows few signs of slowing its deadly march across the United States and around the world. More than 5 million people globally have succumbed to the multi-faced virus, and some 275 million cases have been reported (it is impossible to know how many cases have gone unreported). In the U.S., the numbers exceed 800,000 and 50 million, respectively. Here in Arizona, coronavirus-attributed deaths are more than 23,000, while total cases reported stand at 1.3 million-plus.
People 65 and older make up about three-quarters of the death toll in the U.S.
Viruses are ever-changing. Their different mutations are called variants of the original virus. Covid-19 – be it the devastating effects of the original outbreak (beta), or variants delta or omicron – requires constant attention and preventative measures to ensure the best possible chance to avoid becoming infected. As new variants take their place, future mutations are expected to occur and create additional healthcare havoc; already, 10 variants are being monitored worldwide, including delta and omicron, which are classified as Variants of Concern (VOC).
What we know
The highly diverse coronavirus can impact many body organs, but typically infect the respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts. Because it is airborne, Covid-19 spreads between people who are in close contact – within about 6 feet – through respiratory droplets, created when someone talks, coughs or sneezes. One can also contract coronavirus by touching a surface someone with the virus has infected (coughing, sneezing, touching), then touching your face. The virus can live on plastic and stainless steel surfaces for two to three days.
The time from exposure to onset of symptoms is about five to six days. However, symptoms can appear as soon as three days after exposure to as long as 13 days later. Among the symptoms associated with the virus are:
Fever or chills, persistent cough
Shortness of breath, difficulty breathing
Fatigue, muscle or body aches
Head ache, nausea or vomiting
New loss of taste or smell
Sore throat, congestion or runny nose
Older adults and people who have severe underlying medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes seem to be at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19 illness.
Note: Says one researcher: “It does seem that (omicron) symptoms may be more mild — issues like scratchy throat, fatigue or headache — compared to more severe symptoms such as fever and respiratory failure. But these symptoms also depend on your vaccination status, age, comorbidity conditions and history of natural infections.”
Governments, multilateral organizations and private firms have spent billions of dollars to develop effective vaccines for Covid-19. Close to two dozen vaccines are being distributed, with nearly 5 billion people having received at least a single dose; that’s about 58 percent of the world. These vaccines have gone through rigorous testing for safety and effectiveness before being approved for public use. In the U.S., about 72 percent of the population has received at least a single dose, while in Arizona, the number stands at 56 percent fully vaccinated – more than 4 million of the state’s residents.[7,8]
Among prevention measures proving most effective against the virus, according to the CDC:
Get vaccinated as soon as possible.
Wear a protective face covering over your nose (yes, over your nose!) and mouth.
Stay socially distanced from others.
Avoid crowds and poorly ventilated spaces.
Test to prevent spread to others.
Wash your hands often, cover coughs and sneezes.
Clean and disinfect house and work surfaces.
Monitor your health daily.
Visit cdc.gov/coronavirus for more information and updates.
Because the medical and scientific community continue to introduce new vaccines and steps against the virus, it is not a time to let our guard down. Now, in fact, is the time to renew our commitment to beat Covid-19, to do our individual part to protect each other from infection. More than ever, it is time to get vaccinated, mask up and practice social distancing. We owe it to ourselves and our communities.
At Desert Haven Home Care and Apollo Residential Assisted Living in Greater Phoenix, Arizona, professional healthcare team members are on hand to make certain the proper precautions against Covid-19 are always in place, constantly practiced. Team members know the symptoms of the virus and are prepared to ensure all appropriate measures are taken to protect their residents.
For more information about Desert Haven Home Care and Apollo Residential Assisted Living, visit www.deserthavenaz.com.
 Johns Hopkins University & Medicine Coronavirus Resource Center. 14 Dec 2021. www.coronavirus.jhu.edu. Web. https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html, accessed 14 Dec 2021.
 “Tracking Coronavirus in Arizona: Latest Map and Case Count.” The New York Times. 14 Dec 2021.
www.nytimes.com. Web. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2021/us/arizona-covid-cases.html, accessed 14 Dec 2021
 “The Covid-19 Update.” The New York Times. 14 Dec 2021. www.nytimes.com. Web. https://www.nytimes.com/news-event/coronavirus, accessed 14 Dec 2021.
 “COVID-19 Coronavirus.” Center for Disaster Philanthropy. 9 Dec 2021. www.disasterphilanthropy.org. Web.
https://disasterphilanthropy.org/disaster/2019-ncov-coronavirus/?gclid=Cj0KCQiAnuGNBhCPARIsACbnLzrgrg4SwMTi58-YKWz038xyIZiuShBwcTEq5Aj3jNb4FvPTMmJ8DQ8aAm4IEALw_wcB, accessed 14 Dec 2021.
 “Symptoms of COVID-19.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 22 Feb. 2021. www.cdc.gov. Web. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html, accessed 14 Dec 2021.
 Krstic, Zee. “9 Omicron COVID-19 Symptoms Infectious Disease Experts Say You Shouldn't Ignore.” 11 Dec 2021. www.goodhousekeeping.com. Web. https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/health/a38463751/omicron-variant-symptoms-breakthrough-covid/, accessed 14 Dec 2021. Article author Zee quotes Dr. Nicholas Kman, an emergency medicine physician at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
 Felter, Claire. “A Guide to Global COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts.” Council on Foreign Relations. 11 Oct 2021. www.cfr.org. Web. https://www.cfr.org/backgrounder/guide-global-covid-19-vaccine-efforts, accessed 14 Dec 2021.
 Google News. 13 Dec. 2021. www.news.google.com. Web.
https://news.google.com/covid19/map?hl=en-US&mid=%2Fm%2F0vmt&state=7&gl=US&ceid=US%3Aen, accessed 14 Dec 2021.