UTAH (ABC4) – The Utah Department of Health (UDOH) has confirmed the state’s first case of the omicron variant of COVID-19.
UDOH announced on Friday that the case was discovered through ongoing genetic sequencing of positive COVID-19 samples at the Utah Public Health Library.
The person who tested positive for the virus is an older adult who lives within the Southwest Utah Public Health District and recently returned home to Utah after traveling to South Africa.
The person is fully vaccinated, received monoclonal antibody treatment, and is recovering at home after experiencing mild symptoms, health officials said.
“Given the high number of Utahns traveling in and out of the state, it is not surprising the Omicron variant has been found in Utah,” said Dr. Leisha Nolen, state epidemiologist at the UDOH. “The discovery of this case does not change the way Utah residents should protect themselves but reinforces that we all need to take this virus seriously. Please take action to protect yourself. Get vaccinated and get a booster dose when you qualify, wear a mask in crowded, indoor settings, get tested early if you have symptoms, and stay home if you are sick or test positive.”
Many of the people testing positive for Omicron in the U.S. have been vaccinated. Dr. Nolen says this has less to do with the vaccine’s efficacy, and more to do with who is allowed to travel.
“Most of the people traveling right now are vaccinated, especially to these international destinations,” said Nolen.
The UDOH conducted a thorough case investigation, including identifying any close contacts of the case.
The press release also says the person who tested positive and their close contacts have been very cooperative and are following the isolation, quarantine, and testing guidance of public health authorities.
There are still many unknowns regarding the Omicron variant, including whether it spreads more easily, causes more severe disease, and how well the current vaccines work against it. As a precautionary measure, the CDC recommends international travelers who are unvaccinated should stay home and away from others for seven days after their trip and all travelers should get tested 3-5 days after they return to Utah.