State officials hold first COVID-19 briefing since omicron variant detected in NJ
Gov. Phil Murphy held his first COVID-19 briefing since the omicron variant of the virus was detected in New Jersey.
State health officials say that while they are concerned about the new variant, there is no reason to panic.
“Let’s avoid hysteria. The science is incredibly incomplete here,” Murphy said.
Officials said that there is still much that they do not know about the variant.
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"I think we need to learn to live somewhere between complacency and panic. Meaning, we have a certain percentage of the population who wants to think that everything is over and not need to take any precautions at all. And on the other hand, some people are panicking over every bit of news and worrying about omicron and everything else,” said Dr. Ed Lifshitz, the state Communicable Disease director.
Lifshitz says that the best protection from any strain of COVID-19 continues to be a vaccine.
“Without a doubt, vaccines continue to be the best protection we have. I encourage everybody to go out and get them,” he said.
Murphy said that with only one case of omicron detected in New Jersey, the main threat remains the delta variant of COVID-19.
"Not one case of omicron is in the hospital. This is 99.9% delta. And that's the task before us,” he said.
Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said that three people in the state are undergoing testing to determine if they are infected with the omicron variant. This comes as nursing and health care worker staff levels are at risk due to burnout from dealing with the pandemic for nearly two years.
“The nurses are tired, and they’re burned out,” Persichilli said.
The commissioner said that Dec. 15 is “Boost New Jersey Day” – a day to encourage everyone in the state who is eligible to get a booster shot.