More Omicron Cases Likely In Yavapai County; First Person With New Covid Variant Has Not Traveled, Health Official Says

By Tim Wiederaenders | TWieds_editor

Originally Published: December 9, 2021 8:28 p.m.

(Courier illustration)

(Courier illustration)

Details are emerging surrounding Arizona’s first known case of the COVID-19 Omicron variant — which is in Yavapai County — such as officials believing more omicron-positive individuals likely exist locally.

“This person claims to have had no travel outside of the state or nation, which means more people here have (omicron),” Yavapai County Community Health Services Director Leslie Horton said Thursday. “They have not attended any large gatherings either.”

The person is in their 50s and was fully vaccinated with Pfizer shots in April 2021, Horton said, adding that further details about the person are not available at this time.

Horton said the individual who contracted the omicron variant was first tested for COVID around Thanksgiving.

They were tested at a local pharmacy with a rapid COVID test, which was positive, Horton said. To discern which type or variant of COVID, additional testing is needed; those results came back to the YCCHS on Dec. 8, indicating omicron.

“After they tested positive they self-isolated, … which concluded Wednesday,” Horton said, referring to the customary 14-day quarantine.

Nineteen states, as of Dec. 8, had reported positive cases of omicron, the second variant of COVID-19 – the first being delta. Omicron was first detected in southern Africa, and is believed to be more contagious but not as severe.

It is becoming apparent that the omicron variant results in lesser sickness and symptoms, than delta, according to the Associated Press; and, the severity is not dependent on whether the person is vaccinated. Horton confirmed that in countries experiencing omicron, and in the case in Yavapai County, it is not as severe.

Calls Thursday to the Arizona Department of Health Services for further comments were not immediately returned.

Horton said, “It’s natural to be concerned, but we should avoid overreacting to this news.

“Since late 2020, as different variants have come along, COVID-19 vaccines have consistently proven highly effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalization and death. Our best response to the omicron variant, as with any other variant of concern, is renewing our focus on vaccination and following recommendations, such as staying home when sick, that are proven to reduce the spread.”

BY THE NUMBERS

Arizona reported 3,663 new COVID cases on Thursday and 75 deaths, according to the ADHS dashboard, for a total of 1,305,260 cases and 22,854 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.

Yavapai County saw 133 new cases Thursday and eight new deaths. Yavapai County has conducted 318,841 tests with 34,057 positive results, and 858 deaths. Currently, 49.8% of people in Yavapai County are fully vaccinated.

RESOURCES & TIPS

Arizona has hundreds of providers offering safe, free and highly effective COVID-19 primary vaccines to everyone 5 and older, according to the ADHS. Booster doses are recommended for everyone 18 and older at least six months after completing a primary series of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or at least two months after the single-dose Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine.

Arizonans also can protect themselves and their families while preserving hospital capacity by:

• Getting a flu shot: azhealth.gov/flu.

• Masking up, maintaining physical distance, keeping hands washed, staying home if sick, and follow other prevention steps: azhealth.gov/COVID-19.

• Getting tested if you have symptoms or five to seven days after being exposed to someone who has or who you believe may have COVID-19: azhealth.gov/Testing.

• If they contract COVID-19, look into monoclonal antibody treatments that can reduce the severity of illness and reduce the chances of hospitalization: azhealth.gov/mAbs.

To find a vaccination provider, visit azhealth.gov/FindVaccine or call the bilingual Arizona COVID-19 Hotline at 844-542-8201 (press 8 to be connected to a navigator) between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. seven days a week.

More information on COVID-19 vaccines is available at azhealth.gov/COVID19Vaccines.

More information on COVID-19 and ways to curb the spread is available at azhealth.gov/COVID-19 and www.yavapaiaz.us/chs.