On Friday, December 17, Riverside County reported the first detected case of the omicron variant of the coronavirus, which has led to a spike in infections worldwide.
The variant was found in a 41-year-old fully vaccinated man living in the western part of the county, public health officials said in a press release. The identity of the man and his hometown were not disclosed.
Officials are trying to determine if the man was traveling before being tested for coronavirus in Los Angeles County on December 8. This sample tested positive and was sent to the genome sequencing laboratory, which showed a variant of the omicron.
San Bernardino County reported its first case of omicron on Tuesday, December 14, in a fully vaccinated Redlands man who traveled to another state for a conference and returned with coronavirus symptoms.
Riverside County Public Health Director Kim Saruwatari said in a press release that the option is likely to reach the county “so this is not surprising or cause for widespread concern.”
“The same steps that helped protect us from the virus in the past remain in place,” she said in a statement.
The reported case “reminds us of the importance of taking action to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in all its forms,” Public Health Officer Dr Geofrri Lyung said in a press release.
“The most important of these steps is to get your first dose of vaccine if you haven’t already, and then complete the series and revaccinations to reduce the spread and prevent serious complications from COVID-19.”
Riverside County has reported more than 385,000 COVID-19 cases and 5,523 virus deaths since the pandemic began.
To prevent the spread of the virus, officials are urging people to get vaccinated against COVID-19, avoid mass gatherings, wear face masks, and wash their hands frequently.
Omicron, first reported in South Africa, is the latest mutation of the new coronavirus to sweep the world in a pandemic that will soon begin its second year.
While researchers are still investigating this option, early results indicate that omicron is more transmissible but may cause less severe COVID-19 symptoms. Vaccines have also proven to be effective against this option.
Faced with a growing number of cases, Gov. Gavin Newsom re-enacted the indoor mask ban, which began on Wednesday, December 15.
More than 3.4 million doses of vaccine have been administered in Riverside County since December 2020. Vaccines are available to everyone aged 5 and over, and boosters are available to everyone aged 16 and over.
Vaccination appointment: 951-358-5000 or myturn.ca.gov
For COVID-19 information: www.rivcoph.org/coronavirus.