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Health commissioner says omicron could be on its way, but focusing on delta still important

Eric Zgodzinski says he ordered another 15,000 at-home COVID tests to give away to the community.

TOLEDO, Ohio — The newest COVID-19 variant has been causing a worldwide stir. 

With holiday traditions often meaning large gatherings, the increased threat of spreading the omicron variant is what all medical professionals want to prevent. Local medical professionals just want to tackle COVID-19 period, delta or omicron.

Toledo-Lucas County Health Commissioner Eric Zgodzinski said the last time he ordered at-home COVID-19 test kits for the area, he gave away 12,000.

This time around he's ordered 15,000 to hand out.

"You know, we're trying to get a handle on omicron and we don't really know what its gonna do," Zgodzinski said. "We just don't know enough yet to say one way or the other. "

RELATED: US expected to toughen testing requirements for travelers as omicron spreads

He said since reports are still unclear if the variant is or isn't already here in the United States, he's not primarily focused on it. He said it's best, whether it is or isn't here, that everyone be prepared.

"We're still dealing with delta," he said. "Our hospitals are being inundated with Delta patients right now. So we need to take care of what's in front of us as well."

The CDC's COVID data tracker shows Ohio has a very high transmission rate for the virus. New hospital admissions, for a seven-day moving average, is around 490 people.

Zgodzinski explained the best ways to be prepared if you plan on gathering for the holidays are:

  • Test yourself before heading to holiday gatherings.
  • Stay home if you're feeling sick, have a cough or not feeling 100%.
  • Wear a mask at holiday gatherings in a well-ventilated room.

RELATED: Omicron variant: Don’t wait to get a booster shot, doctors say

He said the most important thing to do for the holidays is to get vaccinated.

"Right now [northwest Ohio] has some of the highest number of admits and ICU bed use that we had. Even when we had that spike a month or two ago," Zgodzinski said.

The Ohio Department of Health found the state on a 21-day average is reporting more than 5,000 cases. More than 60% of the population has been vaccinated, but we're still not out of the woods yet.

"I foresee us having to go through a couple more spikes here with the holiday seasons as we move into the beginning of next year," Zgodzinski said.

He went on to support all school superintendents who check in with medical professional findings and take a look at cases within their own district to decide when is best to mask up in the classrooms.