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Utah doctor warns not to underestimate the omicron variant

Two small bottles and a shot contain the COVID-19 vaccine. They lie on top of a light blue disposable mask, on a blue surface.

The omicron COVID-19 variant is less severe but it’s affects can’t be underestimated especially when it comes to children, said chief of the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at University of Utah Health and director of hospital epidemiology at Intermountain Primary Children's Hospital Dr. Andrew Pavia.

Pavia said hospitals are overwhelmed, and there are four times more sick children now than any other time in Utah. Pavia said nearly all children that are hospitalized are unvaccinated or have a condition that prevents the vaccine from working. Pavia said we need to be focused on relieving the healthcare system. Hospitalizations are up and workers are down, making it difficult to care for everyone that needs it.

Pavia criticized Governor Cox’s remarks about cloth masks being useless. He said masks are one of the best tools we can use to take pressure off of the healthcare system.