Officials in Louisville have confirmed the first case of the new COVID-19 omicron strain – a 26-year-old resident who was fully vaccinated in February but who hadn't received a booster shot.
The resident tested positive for COVID earlier this year, but sequencing on Monday confirmed it had been the new strain.
Dr. SarahBeth Hartlage, associate medical director at the Louisville Metro Department for Public Health and Wellness, said it's likely that there are more undetected omicron cases and expects the amount to rise in the coming weeks.
\”We believe that she acquired it locally, which implies that the omicron variant is circulating here already,\” Hartlage said. \”And I think those of us who follow this stuff are extremely of the belief that it has been for a couple of weeks, we're just now getting confirmatory labs.\”
The announcement comes days after Gov. Andy Beshear confirmed Friday the state's first cases; they've since been present in at least four Kentucky counties.
Mayor Greg Fischer asserted as the new strain isn't yet considered to be more severe, it's more transmissible than the highly contagious delta variant and that he expects it'll soon surpass the previous strain.
\”It's been just a little slow to get at Louisville but it's with us at this time and it is replicability is extremely, very fast,\” the mayor said. \”So soon, inside a couple of weeks, it will likely be the dominant strain within our city.\”
Officials urged continued vaccinations and boosters, as both Pfizer and Moderna have finally announced that boosters might help prevent serious illness or hospitalizations.
But city leaders warned when it is that rather more transmissible, it may still mean a bigger quantity of unvaccinated individuals who can get seriously ill.
Health officials also worry that the arrival of omicron will strain hospital ICUs which were already seeing a rush of new cases.
Dr. Valerie Briones-Pryor with University of Louisville Health said there are more than 70 COVID patients over the hospital system, which is double the amount number from mid-November.
Jefferson County continues to be at a negative balance COVID zone by having an average incidence rate of around 38 cases per 100,000 residents. But that is an average of the previous week and it is likely to increase as daily numbers have recently hit 50 or more cases per 100,000.
The state considers the red zone to be 25 cases per 100,000 residents or above.
Jefferson County had 2,045 new cases a week ago and 45 new deaths.