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1st Case of COVID Omicron Variant Confirmed In Santa Clara County

SAN JOSE (CBS SF) -- A Santa Clara County resident who recently returned from travel out-of-state has been confirmed to have the COVID omicron variant, health officials said Friday.

The county Public Health Department said the individual was fully vaccinated but had not yet received a booster. The person was currently in isolation.

At a briefing Friday morning, county health officer Dr. Sara Cody gave additional details about the patient, saying they experienced symptoms on November 30 and tested positive the next day. The health officer said the patient had recently traveled to Florida and was likely exposed there.

"They had very mild symptoms which resolved quickly, and they have been isolating at home," Cody said.

RAW VIDEO: Santa Clara Co. Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody On Omicron Variant

The health officer also announced that the omicron variant was also detected in wastewater in a sewer shed serving northern Santa Clara County, which includes the communities of Palo Alto, Mountain View, Los Altos and Los Altos Hills, along with a small portion of San Mateo County.

Health officials in the Bay Area have been anticipating that omicron cases would be detected locally and the report did not come as a surprise.

"Ever since we first learned about omicron we have been anticipating a detection here because our population is large, our population is diverse and our population is mobile," Cody said.

News of the variant's spread in Santa Clara County comes a day after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approved Pfizer booster shots for 16 and 17-year-olds.

Cody reiterated the importance of vaccination in the wake of the new variant. While the county's vaccination rate is above 80% of eligible residents, she noted that cases among the unvaccinated in the county are now 80 per 100,000 population per day.

"Although there are still many unknowns about this variant, we strongly recommend getting vaccinated and getting your booster if you haven't already to help guard against Omicron," Cody in a statement before Friday's news conference. "It is a new variant, but we know what to do, and that's to continue with all our layers of protection: Vaccinate, boost, mask, ventilate, distance, and test often."

"The main message now is the importance of boosters – two initial shots are not enough," said county vaccine officer Dr. Marty Fenstersheib in a statement. "Boosters have been shown to offer a great deal of additional protection from serious COVID-19 infection."

County health officials offered the following guidelines for people traveling or gathering for the holidays:
• Get tested immediately before travel, upon return, and again 3-5 days later.
• Have everyone ages 5+ get their COVID vaccine.
• Have everyone ages 16+ get their COVID booster.
• Wear a mask indoors and in crowded settings. Wearing medical-grade masks and adjusting masks so they fit tightly are important.
• Keep group gatherings small in both size and duration. Gather only with close family units.
• Outside gatherings are safer than indoor gatherings.
• Be cautious around elderly or immunocompromised individuals and consider COVID-19 testing before such interactions.
Parents of very young children and those who have not been vaccinated should make sure to take all advised precautions. Avoid large gatherings. Always wear a mask in indoor public settings and in crowded outdoor settings (unless under age 2).

For more information on COVID vaccines, visit this link.

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