First in-state case of COVID-19 omicron variant confirmed in Georgia

The Georgia Department of Public Health confirmed Sunday the first in-state case of the COVID-19 omicron variant.

According to the DPH, the individual recently traveled from South Africa and developed mild symptoms and subsequently tested positive for COVID-19. Genomic sequencing confirmed the presence of the omicron variant. 

Health officials said the individual is isolating at home and contact tracing is underway to identify close contacts at risk of infection. 

This is the first identified in-state case of omicron. DPH was notified on Dec. 3 of a Georgia resident currently in New Jersey who tested positive for the omicron variant.


The number of states finding the variant is growing as well, with Massachusetts announcing its first case Saturday, a day after New Jersey, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Maryland reported their first confirmed cases. Missouri reported its first presumed case Friday.

The variant also has been detected in Nebraska, Minnesota, California, Hawaii, Colorado and Utah.

Scientists continue to study the omicron variant to determine how quickly and easily it spreads, whether it causes more severe illness and how well the current COVID vaccines protect against it.

"Pfizer and BioNTech are remaining vigilant and constantly conducting surveillance efforts focused on monitoring for emerging variants that potentially escape protection from our vaccine," a spokesperson for Pfizer told FOX Television Stations. "We are beginning to run neutralization tests on the new Omicron variant of concern and expect to have initial data in the coming weeks."

Any omicron-specific vaccine probably could not begin to be produced for another two or three months, Dr. Paul Burton, chief medical officer for Moderna, told the Associated Press on Monday.

In the meantime, scientists say those who are currently vaccinated with a shot and a booster should have "sufficient protection."

"Vaccination is key to preventing further transmission of COVID-19 and helps prevent new variants like Omicron from emerging," said Kathleen E. Toomey, M.D., M.P.H., commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health. "It also is important to remember that even as Omicron is emerging, we are still in the midst of a pandemic currently being fueled by the Delta variant."


All Georgians over the age of 5 are now eligible for COVID vaccination. Booster doses of vaccine are recommended for adults 18 and older who completed their first series of vaccine at least six months ago. The CDC also recommends general prevention measures such as wearing a mask in public settings, staying 6 feet from others, avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces, and frequently washing your hands to protect against COVID-19.

Individuals who have symptoms of COVID-19 or who may have been exposed to someone with COVID should get tested, according to health officials.

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