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UPDATE: Alameda County Omicron Variant Outbreak Victims Attended Wisconsin Wedding Last Weekend

BERKELEY (CBS SF) -- At least five people in Alameda County who attended a wedding in Wisconsin last week have been diagnosed with the omicron variant, health authorities announced Friday.

One of those who attended the wedding had just returned from international travel. An Alameda County public health officer said after last weekend's wedding 12 East Bay residents came back infected with COVID, five of them with the omicron variant.

The Alameda County Public Health Department said in a press release a state lab used genomic sequencing to identify those infected with the omicron variant, each who were reported to be "mildly symptomatic." Those infected at the event were between the ages of 18 and 49.

The announcement comes just two days after the first case of Omicron in the United States was reported in San Francisco in a person who recently returned from South Africa, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday.

All 12 of the individuals had been vaccinated and most had received boosters, the health department said. One person is a Berkeley resident and the remaining 11 are residents of Alameda County. None has been hospitalized.

"The vaccines are doing what they're intended to do, which is to prevent severe illness, hospitalization, and death. We know they are imperfect when it comes to infection," said Doctor Arthur Reingold, the division chair of epidemiology at the School of Public Health at UC Berkeley.

He said scientists don't know if omicron is more transmissible or make people sicker. Researchers need more time and data, but he predicted more holiday gatherings will likely lead to bad outcomes.

"Unfortunately, we're going to see (more COVID cases) this Winter. Hospitals are going to be stretched thin and it's going to create problems. Now (will it be) the same magnitude as last Winter? I certainly hope not," said Dr. Reingold.

Aside from the five cases confirmed to be the omicron variant, genomic sequencing has not yet been completed for the other seven.

The Alameda County and the City of Berkeley Public Health Departments are investigating these cases with the support of the California Department of Public Health. Close contacts are being notified and provided with isolation and quarantine guidance.

Bay Area residents were reminded that vaccination continues to provide the best protection against severe illness from COVID-19 that could result in hospitalization and death.

To prevent the spread of COVID-19 people are urged to:
• Get vaccinated and boosted, if eligible
• Stay home if sick
• Get tested if symptomatic or exposed
• Wear a mask indoors
• Wash your hands
• Avoid crowded and poorly ventilated indoor settings
• If gathering or traveling, get tested before and after

© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Bay City News contributed to this report

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