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Idaho health officials report state’s 1st COVID omicron case

December 11, 2021 GMT

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Public health officials on Friday reported Idaho’s first case of the omicron variant of coronavirus on Friday in an adult who recently had traveled out-of-state.

Central District Health, the public health agency that serves four counties including the Boise region, said the variant was confirmed in a lab sample from an Ada County residents over age 50. The resident was fully vaccinated and had mild symptoms, Central District Health said in a statement.

The World Health Organization has classified omicron as a “variant of concern” and it has now been found in several states.

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Scientists are working to determine details about the new variant, including whether it evades immunity. Early indications suggest it may be more easily transmissible but cause less severe illness than the delta variant, which is widespread in Idaho.

Experts have said the best way to protect against the omicron variant is the same way people should protect themselves from other coronavirus variants: By getting vaccinated and getting booster shots when eligible and by wearing masks and avoiding crowds.

“Many Idahoans regularly travel this time of year, and we need to remember to continue to take precautions, including receiving your vaccine or vaccine booster if you have not done so already,” Lindsay Haskell, the communicable disease control manager for Central District Health, said the statement.

More than 311,000 Idaho residents have had confirmed cases of coronavirus since the pandemic began and more than 4,000 of them have died. One in every 586 Idaho residents tested positive for coronavirus over the past week.

Still, the state’s vaccination rates remain low, with fewer than 46% of residents completely vaccinated against coronavirus, according to numbers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vaccines have been approved for people ages 5 and older, and people who are fully vaccinated and ages 16 and older can get booster shots.