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Arizona health officials say 'mild' omicron still a risk

Omicron Covid-19
Chris Granger/The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate via AP
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COVID-19 tests are administered to children, Monday, Jan. 3, 2022, at L.B. Landry High School in the Algiers neighborhood of New Orleans.

Hospital officials and public health experts in Arizona are warning against dismissing omicron because of its reputation for being a less severe COVID-19 variant.

Dr. Michael White, of Phoenix-based Valleywise Health, said Wednesday even mild illnesses can burden a health care system already exhausted by the pandemic.

His comments come amid reports that some people are deliberately trying to catch the highly contagious variant.

Some believe they can suffer mild illness in exchange for gaining natural immunity.

Arizona State University’s Biodesign Institute also warned that omicron could trigger serious illness or long-haul COVID-19 symptoms.

Meanwhile, the state reported a new daily record of more than 18,000 confirmed cases.