Vermont confirms first case of omicron variant

December 19, 2021 GMT

BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) — Health officials in Vermont have confirmed the state’s first case of the omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus.

The state Department of Health said Saturday that genetic sequencing identified the variant in a specimen collected Dec. 8 from a Lamoille County resident in their 30’s.

Officials said the individual was fully vaccinated and had been experiencing mild symptoms.

State Health Commissioner Mark Levine said detection of the variant in Vermont is not unexpected. The variant has already been found in more than 40 U.S. states and territories.

“We knew it was only a matter of time before we saw Omicron in our state, and made sequencing a priority,” Levine said in a statement. “Vermont is a national leader in the proportion of positive tests on which we perform genomic sequencing. This is key to our ability to quickly identify and respond to cases.”

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He said the spread of the strain means its even more important for residents to be vaccinated and get their booster shots.

Health officials reported more than 450 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, of which nearly 60 were in the hospital.

Vermont is averaging about 418 new cases a day, down from 582 a day two weeks ago, according to Johns Hopkins data. Nearly 87% of residents have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose; 74% are fully inoculated.