Concern for omicron variant grows in the Rochester community


ROCHESTER. N.Y. (WROC) — A new strain of the coronavirus could be making it’s way through the United States now. The World Health Organization designated omicron as a “variant of concern” Friday.

Governor Kathy Hochul announced on Friday a “Disaster Emergency” executive order as a response — limiting non-essential and non-urgent procedures in hospitals with limited capacity.

In a recent interview Dr. Anthony Fauci says it will likely take a few weeks to determine if omicron is resistant to vaccines.

“We don’t know a lot about this virus so we want to prepare as best as we can,” Dr. Fauci said.

Meanwhile in the Rochester community, advocates continue to encourage vaccination in creative ways.

One of those events took place at St. Michael’s Church near Clinton Avenue on Sunday afternoon.

Organizers say it’s a post-Thanksgiving holiday celebration, paired with an opportunity to get vaccinated; whether it’s your first dose, or your booster.

“In this area it’s a lot of poverty, it’s a lot of drug use, people that are homeless and things like that, so we prepare a dinner just for them,” organizer Luis Lespier said. “We are also trying to make sure people get vaccinated.”

Lespier says the church is an ideal place to do this kind of outreach.

“That’s our church and that’s been our church since I came from Puerto Rico 40 years ago,” he said.

Rudy Rivera, parishioner and organizer agrees, and says this is his way of taking care of the neighborhood.

“I have seen the consequences of death too much on Clinton Avenue, whether from overdoses or murders, or COVID,” Rivera said. “Part of the role as being an advocate is that you’re constantly vigilant about what is the condition of people.”

Nearly a year ago, St. Michael’s Church was in danger of closing for several months due to declining attendance and financial difficulties.

Despite early concerns it’s still standing strong now, and Rivera says this event is a perfect example of more community-based events he wants to run in the future. The goal he says, is to reach youth or anyone in the neighborhood who may be struggling.

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