Omicron variant found in western Washington

OLYMPIA, Wash.– The omicron variant of COVID-19 is in Washington.

The Washington Department of Health said it confirmed cases of the variant in Thurston, Pierce and King counties. Health experts said the samples were collected between Nov. 29 and Dec. 1.

State health leaders did not say how the people who tested positive with the variant are doing. They did say the ages of the people who tested for the variant ranged from 20 to 39.

“We knew that it was a matter of time before omicron was sequenced in our state and so we were anticipating this very news,” Umair A. Shah, MD, MPH, Secretary of Health said in a press release. “We strongly urge people to get vaccinated and get their boosters as soon as possible to maximize their level of protection from any variant.”

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The department of health says it doesn’t think the cases are related. However, the travel history of the people who tested positive is not known. They also do not the vaccination status of these three people.

Health experts say they were able to find the variant as quickly as they did because of PCR testing and genomic sequencing.

There is still a lot that health experts don’t know about omicron. They don’t know if it is more contagious, as some health authorities suspect, whether it can thwart vaccines and whether it makes people as sick as the original strain.

“There is still much to learn about this variant as scientists around the world continue to study it. It remains as important as ever to get vaccinated, get boosted, wear a mask and be safe. We cannot yield an inch to this virus,” Gov. Jay Insee said on a statement.

Doctors say the best way to protect yourself and others from COVID-19 is by getting a vaccine booster as soon as possible.

More information about COVID-19 in Washington can be found here. 

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