Ethnic Vietnamese living in the U.S. are not too worried about the new Omicron strain of Covid, but are nevertheless not letting their guard down.
“I am worried about the spread of the Omicron variant but not too stressed”, Vu Ngoc, who lives in Washington DC, says when asked about the new Covid strain.
She can work from home besides which the capital has a low population density, she explains.
But Vu says people around her seem to be more anxious now than before Omicron appeared, and many are rushing to register for a booster dose.
She and her husband had to wait for two weeks before getting the third shot at the end of November.
She has noticed that announcements in the subway encouraging passengers to wear masks regularly and properly have been more frequent since December 7. They are told that the Covid situation is becoming increasingly unpredictable, and those who need masks can get them from staff, she says.
She is also reassured by the facts that most people wore masks in the subway connecting Washington DC, Virginia and Maryland before the new variant was recognized, and the U.S. now requires people entering the country to have a negative Covid test within 24 hours rather than the earlier 72 hours, which indicates the risk of virus transmission is lower.
Also, at the beginning of this month the government urged all adults above 18 years to get a booster shot. Earlier only people in high-risk groups were asked to do so.
Pham Thuc of Maryland says he was anxious when he first heard about Omicron but no longer since scientists have said it is less dangerous than the Delta variant.
Local governments in many places are urging masks again and a third shot.
Pham sees people in his area are not worried about the new strain and are going out as usual.
In New York, Duong Khanh says she is relieved to hear on the media that the new variant is not life-threatening.
“Coronavirus is becoming weaker and there will be a time when it becomes like the seasonal flu virus.”
Duong Khanh in New York in December. Photo courtesy of Duong Khanh
Though there are some cases of Omicron infection, she finds that people do not worry much since they are fully vaccinated. They plan to take the booster shot to make things even better for Christmas and New Year.
The city mayor requires citizens to wear masks again in indoor places.
Le Khoa and his family members have had the third jab, which is easy to access, and so he goes out as usual.
He says authorities are increasingly campaigning for the booster shot on TV and online, but the public reaction is varied, with some wearing two masks in the subway and some none, but the majority have at least one.
Gary Thang Nguyen of Washington State says he is “a little worried” about the new strain, and so refrains from going out unless necessary despite getting the third shot.
“I find it as frustrating as others around me that there are constantly new strains. I expect to see higher vaccination rates in future.”
Gary Thang Nguyen is in Seattle City in Washington State. Photo courtesy of Gary Thang Nguyen
Duong Hai of Missouri says his family is not bothered by the Omicron strain after getting the booster vaccine. His kids are going to get the first shot soon.
He sees people do not noticeably react to the new variant and most do not wear masks unless they are high-risk.
In public spaces such as supermarkets, employees wear masks and customers are asked to use hand sanitizers, he says.
Local authorities require the public to follow guidance from the CDC, he adds.
Duong has always believed he will be safe if he follows safety measures, especially sanitizing hands.
“I hope people do not become complacent when they are told to live with the pandemic”.
Vu says she is waiting for her kids, both above 16 years, to get booster shots amid the new development.
She is aware that vaccines for children are still insufficient and so is the vaccination rate for this demographic.
Pham has been scrupulously complying with recommendations to protect himself and his family though he agrees there are no “extra effective measures” for people to avoid viruses.
Le says he wears a mask even in the gym while most others do not.
Duong Khanh in New York and Nguyen highlight the need for strengthening the immune system and limiting contact with strangers to be safe since Covid remains a threat.
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