Even as more states report their first cases of the ommicron variant, it is still the super-infectious delta variant that causes nearly all new COVID-19 cases in the United States.
In addition, it appears that the number of cases is increasing again after Thanksgiving.
dr. Michael Saag, an associate dean for global health at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, has seen a “significant increase” in the past 24 hours in COVID-19 patients requiring monoclonal antibody treatments.
Think about it, said Saag. “Last Thursday or Friday someone was exposed and infected. Then the incubation lasts two or three days.”
In all respects, the cause of the current COVID-19 cases in the United States remains the delta variant of the coronavirus, not ommicron.
“I know the news is focused on omicron, but we must remember that 99.9% of cases in the country are currently of the delta variant,” said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, during a news briefing Friday. The majority of cases, she said, are among people who remain unvaccinated.
Walensky reported that the current seven-day average of new COVID-19 cases is about 86,400 per day. On this day a month ago, the seven-day average was 70,000 cases per day, according to CDC data.
Delta is certainly behind that increase. How ommicron can move things forward remains a mystery.
“It will be some time before we know what the impact will be globally for people infected with omicron,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to the Biden administration, during Friday’s briefing.
dr. Mary Bassett, health commissioner for the New York State Department of Health, said her team has stepped up genetic sequencing to detect and study the omicron variant.
“We urge the public not to panic as we are still learning more about this variant and are prepared to deal with it,” Bassett said at a news conference on Thursday. So far, at least five cases have been identified in New York. Omicron has also been found in California, Colorado, Hawaii, Minnesota, Missouri and Nebraska.
Will ommicron catch up with delta as the predominant variant? Nobody knows – not yet.
“What the virus wants is to infect more people,” said Matthew Binnicker, an infectious disease expert at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.
He explained that viruses mutate because they want to live and spread more easily from person to person.
“That’s why we saw delta take over. It surpassed all other variants of SARS-CoV-2 in the world,” Binnicker said. “It became king of the hill.”
Meanwhile, doctors are preparing for what they fear will be another winter wave of COVID-19, attributed to more holiday gatherings.
“We have Christmas and New Years coming up,” Saag said. “Wash, rinse, repeat.”
This story first appeared on NBCNews.com.