Well, here we go again. A new strain of COVID — called “Omicron” — has popped up in Africa, prompting Europe and the U.S. to restrict travel to and from the region.
It’s too early to know the full repercussions of this new variant, but as I see it this is the potential recurring nightmare for Nevada. Travel limitations are never good for the casino industry. And, another crackdown on travel and limits for people gathering will hit the state in the pocketbook, and hit it hard. Look, no one wants to take a step backwards. Our economy — even in rural Nevada — depends on free travel, large crowds and conventions.
Of course, there’s little that Gov. Steve Sisolak will do if the president restricts travel and cracks down on free movement. He’s just not going to buck his own party. He’s not that kind of Nevada leader. If his party says shut it down, he will comply without a peep. Let’s remember, it’s been a long time since we’ve had an independent leader in Nevada the likes of Mike O’Callaghan.
We’re going to know more about Omicron this week. Scientists will know how infectious it is and how effective the current vaccine and boosters will be against it.
Dr. Monica Gandhi, an infectious disease expert at UCSF, told the San Francisco Chronicle last week that Omicron punctuates the need for vaccine equity. Wealthy countries are coping and getting vaccinated. Poor countries are not.
“It’s completely tragic, and a profound moral and ethical failing.”
In other words, as a worldwide destination state, Nevada will only thrive in this post-COVID world to the same degree that the world thrives.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government’s top infectious disease expert, said Saturday that he “wouldn’t be surprised” if the Omicron coronavirus variant — which has already been detected in countries outside of southern Africa including the U.K., Hong Kong and Israel — is already circulating in the U.S., and travel restrictions would only buy time to better assess the virus before it spreads around the globe.
Fauci also said the U.S. should be prepared for anything, including another shutdown.
On Thanksgiving, Omicron cases in southern African countries spiked from about 200 a day to 2,465. That sounded alarm bells with the world’s scientists.
The scary part for us, of course, is every new variant triggers hair-on-fire responses from the world’s countries until vaccinations are made widely available to all countries, rich and poor.
In the meanwhile, let’s hope this outbreak doesn’t involve another shutdown.
The official numbers are not quite out yet, but CBS Sports says the Thanksgiving Day football game between the Las Vegas Raiders and the Dallas Cowboys garnered an estimated average viewership of 38.5 million. It was the most watched regular season NFL game since 1990.
WHAT I’M WATCHING
I’m re-watching the BBC sitcom “As Times Goes By” with Judi Dench and Geoffrey Palmer. It holds up well. Highly recommended.
ONE MORE THING
— If you have something you must do every day (like take pills) feed your cat right before that appointed time. You may have trouble remembering to take your pills, but your cat absolutely won’t.
— Why do people in Athens hate getting up early? Because Dawn is tough on Greece.
— I ate one candybar for breakfast. Don’t judge me. The week after Thanksgiving is a lawless wasteland of dietary anarchy.
— Phone salesperson: So, do you want the 16GB option or the 32GB option? Me: How many pet pictures is that?
— Alligators can live up to 100 years, which is why they, indeed, may see you later.
As always, thank you for reading this local newspaper. Until next week, please be kind to all you meet, laugh a little and always question authority.
(Sherman Frederick is a Nevada Hall of Fame journalist and co-founder of Battle Born Media, a news organization dedicated to the preservation of community newspapers. You can reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.)