President asking people not to panic as new COVID variant surfaces

ABC7 News at 6pm
Published: Nov. 29, 2021 at 6:23 PM EST
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SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) -The United States is buckling down in preparation for the new coronavirus variant, Omicron. More countries are triggering travel restrictions.

Scientists warn they need time to figure out how concerning the variant is.

President Joe Biden said in an address to the nation on Monday that it’s almost inevitable the new variant will arrive to the U.S. Information on the variant is limited right now.

While it isn’t known if the variant is already in the U.S. some families across the Suncoast tell ABC7 they hope this new variant isn’t as big of a threat as the initial COVID strain nearly two years ago now. Others say we’re now more prepared as a society and commend the vaccine.

Sarasota County resident Dee Roberts says she felt like Rocky Balboa in June of 2020 after being released from a local hospital. Roberts was admitted into the intensive care unit with COVID-19 for 45 days. She spent 42 of those days intubated and on a ventilator.

“I fought hard,” said Roberts in June of 2020.

Doctors, her friends, family, and neighbors all coined her a miracle who lived to tell her story. Today, Roberts is doing better and is healthy. She says she’s enjoying time on the green and grateful for the COVID vaccine.

“To me it’s a lifeline, because I cannot afford to get this virus again or any other form of it, it was devastating,” said Roberts.

It brings us to the new variant, Omicron.

“I hope that it’s minor if it should be there. There’s a lot of things in our favor that a lot of people are vaccinated,” said Roberts.

“I think we’re more prepared as a society and I don’t understand the people who will not get vaccinated,” said Sarasota County resident, Sandy McGowan.

McGowan is the mother of Jonathan McGowan who ABC7 did a story on earlier this year. The Venice man has a compromised immune system and early on was told his age group and conditions weren’t a priority by the state. For weeks at the beginning of this year they fought to get him vaccinated. In March, rules changed by the state to allow those who were immunocompromised to received the vaccine.

Jonathan at the time received his first dose. Nearly a year later, Sandy says she’s not too concerned about the Omicron variant.

“I feel pretty confident because we’ve been vaccinated, we’ve had our booster shots. And we’re still careful,” said Sandy McGowan.

The President on Monday said while this variant is a concern, it is not a cause for panic.

The families ABC7 spoke to say they’re going to continue taking the same precautions they have been for nearly two years now.

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