The first U.S. confirmed case of the Omicron variant is in California today. We first learned that the new COVID-19 variant was identified in South Africa over the holiday weekend, and the world has been on the edge of its seats ever since. World leaders and health officials acted quickly to limit the spread of the Omicron variant. Leaders quickly implemented travel bans from South African countries and required mandatory quarantine for their citizens who traveled to selected countries.
During a White House news briefing, Dr. Fauci stated that the case was in an individual who traveled from South Africa on Nov. 22nd. They later tested positive for COVID-19 on Nov. 29th. As of now, the individual is self-quarantining, and everyone with who they had contact has tested negative. Dr. Fauci confirmed that the individual had both vaccine shots but did not receive their booster shot.
The California and San Francisco Public Health Department confirmed the Omicron variant through genomic sequencing conducted at the University of California at San Francisco. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention later confirmed the sequence. WHO deemed the Omicron variant a “variant of concern” and could pose a very high global risk. Scientists are currently working to determine how transmissible the variant is, how it affects people, and how the vaccines work against it.
On Monday, President Biden stated that the variant is “a cause for concern, not a cause for panic,” saying, “we’ll have to face this new threat just as we face those who have come before it.” Furthermore, he placed a travel ban on South African countries. The Delta variant of the coronavirus remains the dominant variant globally and in the United States.