116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Omicron, the newest variant of the novel coronavirus, has been detected in an Iowa resident, state public health officials say.
The state’s first case of the COVID-19 variant was detected in an unvaccinated individual under the age of 18 who lives in Black Hawk County, the State Hygienic Lab confirmed on Thursday. The unidentified individual remains asymptomatic at this time.
The case was the result of travel exposure, and was detected after the family sought testing based on public health recommendations, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health. The individual, as well as the family, is in isolation, state officials say.
The confirmed case comes as new coronavirus infections and hospitalizations continue to increase in Iowa, reaching totals not seen since December 2020.
“Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is the best way to prevent infection from the omicron variant, or any other strain of the virus,” Dr. Nafissa Cisse Egbuonye, director of the Black Hawk County Health Department, said in a statement. “We have the opportunity to protect ourselves, our loved ones and our communities, especially as we enter the season of gathering.“
More than a dozen states have detected the omicron variant since it was first confirmed in the United States earlier this month. It was labeled a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organization after it was first identified in South Africa in late November.
Though its unclear still whether omicron is more dangerous than delta or other variants, experts say initial data shows it is likely more transmissible and has the ability to spread to individuals quickly.
IDPH Interim Director Kelly Garcia said there is emerging evidence coronavirus booster shots are effective against this variant, and encouraged all Iowans to receive a booster shot “as soon as possible.”
“I want to emphasize how grateful I am to Iowans who have chosen to get vaccinated, thank you,” Garcia said in a statement. “To those who haven’t been vaccinated for COVID-19 yet, I urge you to speak with your health care provider about the vaccine’s benefits for you and those around you.”
The State Hygienic Lab will continue sequencing COVID-19 test samples to look for omicron and other variants, state officials said.
COVID-19 vaccine providers can be found by visiting vaccinate.iowa.gov.
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