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Omicron? Many Americans give it a shrug

Jaweed Kaleem, Kurtis Lee and Molly Hennessy-Fiske, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

Donna Smith was vaccinated, booster shot and all, and ready to travel.

Then came reports a new fast-spreading COVID-19 variant, Omicron, raising the specter of a new wave of infections, hospitalizations and deaths.

There was a time when such news might have alarmed her. But not now.

She has no intention of changing her plans to spend Christmas with her kids in the Appalachian Mountains of Tennessee and then taking off in her motorhome on a tour of the Southwest.

“You have to live life,” said Smith, 53. “The virus is with us forever; we have to adjust.”

As financial markets shuddered and global leaders contemplated new travel restrictions in response to reports of the variant, many Americans had a much different reaction: ho-hum.


After nearly two years and 780,000 U.S. deaths, fatigue and fatalism have become as much a part of pandemic life as booster shots. The emergence of a new variant — at least one as poorly understood as Omicron — seems unlikely to change that.

“I cannot believe we are still going through this,” said Lisa Cotton, 56, who owns a shoeshine stand in downtown Minneapolis.

She is vaccinated and exhausted. Business has been slower than in years past but is picking up as offices reopen.

Her level of caution? Unchanged.


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