First Omicron variant case documented in Indiana
The Indiana State Dept. of Health recently announced that the first case of the Omicron variant was detected in Indiana. The variant was detected through the IDOH Laboratories’ variant surveillance program. The specimen was collected from an unvaccinated patient on Dec. 9.
Indiana was one of just seven states in which Omicron had not yet been detected, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Omicron variant is the latest mutation of the virus that causes COVID-19. The World Health Organization labeled it a variant of concern on Nov. 26. Studies have shown that the variant spreads more easily and faster than the Delta variant.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that COVID-19 vaccines are expected to continue to prevent severe illness, hospitalization and death from the Omicron variant. Evidence shows that individuals who are fully vaccinated and have received a booster dose are best protected against this variant.
Dr. Andrew Morton, Harrison County’s health officer, joined State Health Commissioner Dr. Kris Box, Indiana’s state health commissioner, in sharing that “the latest mutation of the SARS-CoV-2 virus underscores the importance of getting vaccinated and taking other steps to prevent the spread of illness, especially as Hoosiers move indoors during the colder winter months and gather for the holidays. COVID-19 cases are on the rise across Indiana, and we do not want this variant to increase the burden on our already stressed health care system. While we are still learning about Omicron, we already have the tools and knowledge we need to protect ourselves and the people we love from COVID-19. We urge eligible Hoosiers to use those tools as soon as possible to limit the further spread of disease.”
The following steps can help protect Hoosiers from COVID-19, including the Omicron variant:
•Get fully vaccinated if eligible, and get a booster if you are age 16 or older.
•Wear well-fitting masks over your nose and mouth in indoor public settings and crowded outdoor settings.
•Get tested if you have symptoms or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19.
•Stay home if you are sick.
•Wash your hands frequently.
Individuals age 5 and older are currently eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Those ages 5 through 17 must register at a Pfizer vaccine site. Individuals can register online at https://ourshot.in.gov, by calling 211 or by calling the Harrison County Health Dept. at 812-738-3237 then choosing options 1 or 2.
To find a vaccination site, visit www.ourshot.in.gov. Pediatric sites are marked with a red pin on the map. For testing information, visiting www.coronavirus.in.gov.
Since the coronavirus was detected in Indiana in March 2020, 1,221,297 Hoosiers have tested positive for the virus, including 7,543 Harrison County residents.
In all, 16,508,601 COVID tests have been documented, 27,292 of them involving Harrison Countians.
A total of 18,110 deaths have been linked to COVID-19, with 110 of them residents of Harrison County. The state department of health notes that another 650 deaths likely were due to the virus but no test was performed to confirm.
To date, 3,545,779 Hoosiers, including 19,057 Harrison Countians (about 50% of the county’s population), are considered to be fully vaccinated against the virus. A total of 1,321,922 residents statewide have received a booster vaccination.
Harrison County has been in the highest advisory level (red) since the metrics were released on Dec. 15. The levels are updated on Wednesday’s at noon on the state’s COVID dashboard. It was in the second-to-highest level the week before that and in the yellow level (one up from the lowest, blue) a week earlier. The metric numbers are determined by the number of weekly cases and the seven-day positivity rate of all tests.
For more information, visit the Indiana State Dept. of Health’s website at https://in.gov/coronavirus.