Originally published Dec. 29, 2021.

Reed Moore Newsletter: Bonus Edition

Well, hello there! Reed Moore here, your trusty neighborhood newsletter creator/compiler. I know, I know, I said we’d be taking a break this week, but a few items are too important and time sensitive to wait:

  • The waning days of our initial membership campaign.
  • The infamous Omicron variant.
  • Year-in-review feature content.

I wrapped all that up for you here, in a bonus edition of Reed Moore — think of it as a little holiday present, from The Reader to you and yours.

We hope you’re having a safe and fun holiday season, whatever you celebrate. See you for a regular edition of Reed Moore on Monday, Jan. 3, in the year 2022!

A World Without The Reader:
Your Last Chance to Support Us in 2021

On Nov. 16, The Reader launched its initial membership campaign: Focus Forward. Over the past month and a half, we’ve seen an outpouring of support, for which we’re beyond grateful. To express our appreciation, here’s a pair of celebration hands: 🙌

But we’re still short of our 100-member goal for the drive, which ends Friday, and journalism ain’t cheap; a single story costs around $1,517.24 to report and publish. Just think of all the cool stuff The Reader could do with more cash: Launch collaborative journalism initiatives that tackle system inequities, bring civic journalism to Omaha, dive deeper into immigration issues with our sister paper, El Perico… We’re ambitious around these parts — we have been since the early 90s — and we hold institutions of power accountable with our award-winning journalism. Frankly, we can’t imagine a world without The Reader.

🚨Support The Reader Today🚨

P.S. By becoming a member, you get cool stuff too, including the print edition of The Reader delivered to your home each month.

Omicron Variant: Need-to-Know Info

Here we are. Again.

Another COVID-19 variant is getting people sick worldwide, creating chaos in airports, driving up hospitalizations … You’ve heard the name: Omicron.
As the U.S. hits its highest daily total of coronavirus cases, Reed Moore and El Perico present a little more info on the new variant,
and direct you to community resources.


What is Omicron?

It’s another variant of the coronavirus, and it has lots of mutations in its genome. (We’ll spare you the scientific details, but here’s what that means for you science gurus.) On a practical level, Omicron is more transmissible than the Delta variant and more resistant to the Pfizer vaccine. Preliminary studies suggest the disease might be less severe than illness caused by the Delta variant — but experts haven’t arrived at a consensus.

If Omicron is more resistant to the Pfizer vax, why should I bother
getting the jab?

Get vaccinated so you’re more likely to stay out of the hospital and alive. Pfizer vaccines are still 70% effective at preventing hospitalization with the new variant. Moderna appears to provide protection against Omicron, but the CDC isn’t big on Johnson & Johnson for safety reasons.

What can I do to keep myself, my loved ones and my community safe?

You know what’s coming … Get vaccinated! Get boosted! And wear a mask! Even if you’re fully vaxxed and boosted. But don’t just wear any old mask. As CNN Medical Analyst and emergency physician Dr. Leana Wen says, “Cloth masks are little more than facial decorations. There’s no place for them in light of Omicron.” Ditch that cloth mask and opt for a KN95 or N95 mask, especially in crowded places. (Which, by the way, you should avoid.) Here’s where to buy them.

What’s with the new CDC guidance regarding isolation times for people who’ve tested positive for COVID-19?

Twitter sure is having a heyday with this, isn’t it? If you’re not up to speed, here are highlights from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s new guidelines, which cut down the quarantine time for coronavirus-positive people:

CDC is shortening the recommended time for isolation from 10 days for people with COVID-19 to 5 days, if asymptomatic, followed by 5 days of wearing a mask when around others … Therefore, people who test positive should isolate for 5 days and, if asymptomatic at that time, they may leave isolation if they can continue to mask for 5 days to minimize the risk of infecting others … For people who are unvaccinated or are more than six months out from their second mRNA dose (or more than 2 months after the J&J vaccine) and not yet boosted, CDC now recommends quarantine for 5 days followed by strict mask use for an additional 5 days. Alternatively, if a 5-day quarantine is not feasible, it is imperative that an exposed person wear a well-fitting mask at all times when around others for 10 days after exposure. Individuals who have received their booster shot do not need to quarantine following an exposure, but should wear a mask for 10 days after the exposure.

Public health experts have their doubts about the new guidance, expressing concern about people’s ability to judge their own risk of transmission and comply with masking guidelines. Some say the decision was made to benefit businesses and curb the dearth of COVID-19 tests, though the CDC insists it is based on science.

If you’ve been asymptomatic after testing positive for COVID-19 but would still like to get re-tested before reentering the community, use this resource from the Douglas County Health Department to find a test.

Where can I go for more information and resources?

By the Numbers

On Thursday, Dec. 23, Reed Moore’s “COVID-19 Update” graphic displayed out-of-date statistics. We’re sorry. Rest assured today’s graphic reflects the latest numbers.

Reed Moore About Omicron:
Questions Answered About Omicron in Omaha

Dr. Sara Hurtado Bares, an infectious diseases provider at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, tells El Perico what people in the Omaha area can do to stay safe and healthy during the spread of Omicron.

Q&A by Bridget Fogarty, Report for America Corps Member

A note on The Reader’s and Reed Moore’s event coverage in the time of Omicron: In a last-minute, press-day decision, The Reader removed most of its monthly event Picks from the January print edition. The Editorial Board believes it’s irresponsible to promote events when hospitals are nearing capacity, some community members refuse to get vaccinated and Omaha still doesn’t have a mask mandate. As cases continue, The Reader won’t promote any events — be they concerts, plays, art-gallery openings or stand-up comedy — that don’t require masks, vaccination and social distancing.

Reed Moore will replace the “Thing To Do” section with a COVID-19 spotlight featuring coronavirus-related content, such as a COVID-19 news roundup
or a list of vax-clinic locations.

As the Ed Board writes in the January print issue, “Pandemic fatigue or not, it’s not just possible to beat this, but necessary.” So, get your vax, take your boost and grab your mask. Let’s crush COVID-19 — for real this time.

From The Reader: Year-in-Review Features 

Rewind and reflect with writers revisiting 2021 in arts and music, or check out some of the candid photography we published this year. Ready for more year-end recap content? Keep an eye out for The Reader‘s print January issue.

1,000 Words:
Looking Back at 202

Our monthly “1,000 Words” photographs, taken by local photographers,
document some of the year’s most interesting moments.
* If the photos don’t load (there’s a blank space on the webpage), refresh the page. It’s a website glitch.

Playing Favorites 2021

Members of The Reader’s visual-arts team share the exhibits they loved most this past year, with an introduction by arts writer Michael Krainak.

2021 Music Year
in Review

A few positive things stood out during this Year of Resiliency, according to music writer Tim McMahan in his monthly column, “Over the Edge.”

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