Two fully vaccinated; symptoms described as mild and “extremely mild”
By Allen Payton
Contra Costa Health Services announced, Monday, that genomic sequencing of positive COVID-19 test results from the county has identified three cases with the Omicron variant of the virus. The results confirm the presence of the highly contagious variant in the county. However, according to reports from throughout the U.S. and internationally, symptoms have been described as mild, and “extremely mild” by Dr. Angelique Coetzee, the South African doctor who first discovered and announced the new strain.
None of the three people in Contra Costa infected with Omicron had gotten a booster shot, although two were fully vaccinated. So far, no one has been hospitalized.
According to the CDC, the first confirmed U.S. case of Omicron was identified on December 1, 2021. In addition, “CDC expects that anyone with Omicron infection can spread the virus to others, even if they are vaccinated or don’t have symptoms.”
“We knew it was just a matter of time before the omicron variant appeared in Contra Costa County,” said Dr. Chris Farnitano, Contra Costa County health officer. “We’ve been encouraging anyone who is eligible to get a booster dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine to do so. With today’s news and the holidays just around the corner, that message is even more important. People who get the booster are far less likely to get gravely ill or be hospitalized. That’s our wish for this holiday season.”
Omicron likely circulated in the community for several weeks. It had previously been detected in several other Bay Area counties, and genetic evidence of the variant was detected in a wastewater sample from central Contra Costa on Dec. 8.
Just Over One-Third of County Residents Have Had Booster Shots
As of today, just over one-third of eligible Contra Costa residents had received a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
While public health experts are not recommending that those who are vaccinated and or who have received the booster dose cancel holiday plans, they are urging caution. Ways to reduce risk of becoming exposed or spreading COVID-19 include:
- Staying home and isolating themselves if they develop COVID-19 symptoms, which can often resemble cold or flu symptoms
- Getting a COVID-19 test promptly if symptoms develop
- Getting a COVID-19 test before traveling or gathering with people who do not live with you, and again three to five days after traveling or gathering
- Wear masks or face coverings in indoor public spaces, and when gathering indoors with people who do not live with you
Home COVID-19 tests are fast, convenient, and available at many drugstores. No-cost testing is also available through CCHS by calling 1-833-829-2626 or making an online appointment.
The 7-day average number of daily new COVID-19 cases reported in the county has increased about 5% over the past two weeks, and the number of people hospitalized in Contra Costa because of the virus has remained stable so far, this month.
The delta variant of COVID-19 remains the predominant strain in Contra Costa, accounting for more than 97% of genetically sequenced COVID-19 samples collected in the county.
Visit cchealth.org/coronavirus for updates and more information about Contra Costa’s emergency response to the pandemic.