Coronavirus Coverage from KARK

Arkansas economist says omicron variant to blame for Friday stock market woes

Coronavirus

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The World Health Organization said Friday a new COVID-19 variant identified in South Africa is concerning. After a stock market dip, an Arkansas economist said the variant is making an impact before ever entering America.

 The omicron variant hasn’t yet been identified in Arkansas let alone the country. Early indicators show it is a powerful version of the virus.

“It appears to be more infectious than the delta variant,” ADH medical director for immunizations Dr. Jennifer Dillaha said. “The clinical situation is a little bit worrisome.”

Not much is known about the variant at this time, Dillaha said, other than it’s been identified in South Africa, China and Belgium. The U.S. announced it’ll restrict travel from eight South African countries starting next week.

Despite not being in America, the variant is impacting global markets. Friday, the Dow dropped nearly 1,000 points, its biggest fall of the year.

“The stock market right now is tumbling pretty seriously,” University of Arkansas economist Jeff Cooperstein said. “So, what it’s doing is it’s pricing in a risk of this new variant being a serious threat.”

The restrictions impact countries America trades with, but it’s too early to tell if there will be a significant impact on supply chains, Cooperstein said. 

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