Should Rowan Worry About the Omicron COVID Variant?


“We are more concerned with the flu this year than COVID,”  Joe Cardona, the vice president for university relations here at Rowan, said. 

That statement sums up everything Cardona has said so far. In his opinion, students have no reason yet to be concerned about the Omicron variant negatively affecting their daily lives for the foreseeable future. 

The Omicron variant is a new version of COVID first reported in South Africa and boasts a greater amount of mutations than its predecessors. This variant is already present in 19 U.S. states. 

Cardona went on to explain in an interview that the university is positioned well enough to prevent the Omicron variant from affecting student life. Rowan’s administration and wellness department discussed the best course of action frequently with state officials who are experts on the virus.

On top of that, Cardona was completely confident with the school’s current stockpile of masks and other personal protective equipment, alleviating the fear that Rowan might relive what the world experienced two springs ago when vital supplies were nowhere to be found. 

Scott Woodside, director of the Wellness Center states that he “expect(s) Omicron to be the prevailing strain in the spring,” concerning the new variant. Woodside is in slight disagreement with Cardona and holds the opinion that the Omicron variant may shake up student life in ways Rowan may not expect or embrace.

Scott Woodside is confident about the fact that Rowan’s restrictive policies, such as mask requirements, will remain in place for the spring semester, but for the fall 2022 semester, it’s unclear. 

When it comes to national efforts against the Omicron variant, NPR reports the leaders in vaccine advancement, such as Pfizer, are already in the process of producing Omicron boosters. In the meantime, one can most certainly schedule a booster appointment with today’s shots.

”A good booster probably would decrease your chance of infection, especially severe infection leading to more severe disease,” Alex Sigal, a leader in Omicron research from the African Health Research Institute, said.

If Rowan’s wellness department comes to the same conclusion as Sigal, a booster-related mandate or monetary incentive from Rowan University could possibly be on the horizon.

The decision to shut down in-person events or tighten COVID-19 measures is mainly contingent on the number of university cases, so if one is worried about their last semester going virtual or a favorite club halting activities keep in mind university health guidelines. The more students wear masks, take sick days, and exert caution the easier it will be to keep the school functioning best.

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