By Jennifer McRae

DENVER (CBS4)– With subvariants of Omicron spreading in the U.S., CBS4 Medical Editor Dr. Dave Hnida is talking about the end of the TSA’s federal mask mandate and questions that arise with that decision.

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“First was that it really was a snap of the fingers decision. What was going on is the CDC was extending the mask mandate out until May 3 until there really was a better sense of what is going on. Especially with some of the new variants that we’re seeing here in the country. Unfortunately, having the rug pulled out, just a sudden abrupt change left a lot of people unsure of just what was going to happen next. The other issue is the fact that this probably was a judicial decision. This was not a healthy decision. This was not made by someone with a knowledge of health care. It was named by a judge without health care background or experience,” said Hnida.

He also discussed why there is such a concern with the subvariants, which are making their way across Europe right now.

(credit: Getty)

“The first thing we do is ask is, ‘Is it more contagious than what we’re dealing with right now?’ The answer at this point appears to be ‘yes, these are more contagious variants.’ The second concern is ‘are they more serious? Will they make you sick, or will they put you in the hospital?’ At this point, it doesn’t appear to be that way, but we’re just not sure. But nonetheless, there are important implications there when you think about it, because even if it doesn’t land you in the hospital if you get sick from getting one of these variants, it’s going to knock you out of work. And so from an economic standpoint, small businesses take a look at service workers, you look at airlines, are they going to be able to staff aircraft for travel over the summer, once again, may not be in the hospital, but certainly, there will be an impact in terms of what it does to people in their ability to work. And so these are big concerns to me, we’re having less ability to track these things because we’re doing less testing, fewer vaccination sites.”

Hnida also discussed the FDA approval of the first COVID breathalyzer test.

“It basically is a suitcase little analyzer. And what you do is you breathe through a small cardboard straw into this suitcase size analyzer. What it does is it comes up with a molecular footprint, whether or not COVID is present. And so accuracy is pretty good,” said Hnida. “It’s expected that this particular product will probably be available within the next three months for a little bit more public use.”

Jennifer McRae