For the past two years, we've been trying to avoid getting COVID-19. But now health officials are warning against a dangerous trend- people deliberately trying to get Omicron to "Get it over with".
The San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department is advising community members to remain vigilant and not intentionally contract COVID-19.
"We will get through this surge, but we don't want to do it by getting everyone infected in the meantime," said San Luis Obispo County Public Health Officer Dr. Penny Borenstein.
She says vaccination is still more effective protection against severe illness than prior infection.
"We know the unvaccinated people, for sure, are more susceptible to severe disease, to hospitalization, to intensive care or death," said Borenstein.
How someone's body will react to a COVID-19 infection depends on many factors.
"No one really knows how they, as an individual, are going to react to a COVID infection," said Borenstein.
Part of how you will react depends on genetics and how much of the virus you take in.
"We don't recommend that most people just take the chance and say, 'Oh well, most people are getting the disease so why don't we just go ahead and get it over with'," said Borenstein.
"Another reason San Luis Obispo County Public Health recommends people don't just "get it over with" and get COVID-19 is because they could unknowingly infect other members of the population.
Community members we spoke with say they think it's a bad idea to knowingly contract COVID-19.
"I don't think it's good for people to go get COVID just to go out in the public and get COVID, but I do think we need to open up just so that we can enjoy these wonderful surroundings and be part of more of society," said Santa Maria resident Ron Webb.
"Yes, you need to get the precautions, you need to get the free masks the President is giving, free COVID testing. You need to not affect everyone because it just continues on, keeps going it won't stop," said Santa Maria resident Henry Drew.
Borenstein says it's good that people are generally reporting the new omicron variant is not causing as severe of an infection as other variants, but it is still causing widespread disease leading to some of the highest hospitalization rates since the beginning of the pandemic.
"We're seeing people who are young adults who have actually died from this disease, even omicron, so it's a bit of a Russian roulette type of thing and we would advise against people taking that chance," said Borenstein.
Public health recommends community members get vaccinated and if they have questions or concerns about vaccines, that they go to expert sources to have their questions answered like CDC.gov or any community physician.
Dr. Borenstein also emphasizes the importance of staying home when sick, avoiding large gatherings and wearing a mask during this time of very high community transmission.