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As President Biden unveils new COVID-19 measures, a local doctor urges precaution with winter holiday gatherings

Courtesy of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The first U.S. case of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 has been detected in San Francisco, and health officials say it’s only a matter of time before more cases are confirmed.

President Biden announced a plan Thursday to combat COVID-19 heading into 2022 as the new variant is expected to spread globally.

“And it doesn’t include shutdowns or lockdowns," Biden said. "But widespread vaccinations and boosters and testing, and a lot more.”

Biden’s plan includes expanding booster and vaccine access, stringent testing for international travelers, and making at-home rapid tests free for both the insured and uninsured.

While much remains unknown about the Omicron variant, Dr. Justin Grammy, intensivist for Tenet Health Central Coast, said the message in fighting the virus remains the same.

“Stay strong with the current practices that we’ve been having: vaccinations, wearing of masks, social distancing, hand hygiene," Dr. Justin said. "To me, the real difficult part is continuing to do those practices and staying vigilant.”

Dr. Grammy has been working the frontline managing life support for people who have COVID.

“When you reach critical illness of the virus, getting the vaccine at that point is not an option," Grammy said.

Researchers are looking into how transmissible Omicron is, how sick it can make you and how well it holds up to vaccines.

But Dr. Grammy said the most important thing everyone can do in the meantime is to continue with precautions.

“You are fighting the fight just as much as everyone else," Grammy said. "It’s a team effort, and if we keep pushing forward then we can see that finish line and we can get there together. Pandemics eventually will come to an end.”

For more information on where vaccines are available in SLO County, go to

Tenet Health is a KCBX underwriter.

Angel Russell is a former KCBX News reporter who started her career in journalism as a reporter and producer for KREX on Colorado's Western Slope; she later moved to the Central Coast to work for KSBY as weekend anchor and weekday reporter. She holds a BA in journalism from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, and playing guitar and piano.
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