NBC News anchor suggests people should 'self-lockdown,' change lifestyle in lieu of fewer COVID restrictions

Anchor Lester Holt's comments join what some have referred to as a "wave of fear" of the omicron variant

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NBC News' Lester Holt was seemingly disappointed Tuesday that cities and local governments weren't imposing any lockdown measures on their citizens amid the rise in coronavirus cases across the U.S. due to the spread of the omicron variant.

In a video clip first flagged by NewsBusters, Holt appeared to suggest to U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy during an appearance on "NBC Nightly News" that people should "self-lockdown" and change their lifestyles in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in lieu of the lack of lockdown measures.

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"We’re seeing some cities take measures to protect their populations from this particular variant, but nothing in the way of lockdowns. As a health professional, someone who is committed to protecting the health of the American people, would you recommend that we self-lockdown, that we begin to change our lifestyle and dial back on all fronts?" Holt asked Murthy.

Murthy responded that people should remain vigilant about their decisions and how they engage with other people, but stopped short of agreeing with Holt's suggestion.

NBC News' Lester Holt discusses the omicron variant of the coronavirus with U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy (Screenshot/NBC)

NBC News' Lester Holt discusses the omicron variant of the coronavirus with U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy (Screenshot/NBC) (Screenshot/NBC)

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"We can do the things that are most important to us. We can see family over the holidays, for example. But it requires us to be even more vigilant about using the tools we have to protect ourselves," Murthy said. "Tools that include getting vaccinated and boosted, making sure that we are wearing a mask in public indoor spaces, using testing to make our gatherings safer, and trying to gather in well-ventilated spaces whenever possible, including outdoors when that is feasible."

"If we do these, we can really reduce the risk that we will either get sick or transmit infection to other people," he added.

Holt's apparent worries join what some have referred to as a "wave of fear" over the spread of the omicron variant, likening it to more of a common cold rather than a serious case of the coronavirus. 

Dr. Marty Makary

Dr. Marty Makary (Fox News)

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Dr. Marty Makary, professor of health policy at Johns Hopkins University, appeared on "Fox & Friends" last week and explained the more mild symptoms of the variant. 

"Omicron does not invade the lung tissue that's deep in the respiratory tract. It stays superficial in the nose and bronchus. So that's why we're seeing a common cold-like illness," Makary said. "This new scientific data from the lab explains the epidemiological data and the bedside observation of doctors that this is far more mild… and that's why I call it omi-cold."