Omicron. It’s the latest in a string of COVID-19 mutations state officials are now monitoring.
The state’s first omicron case was detected Saturday. A Hartford county man who had recently returned from a New York City convention tested positive. The first U.S. case of the omicron variant was detected in California on December 1. It has now been detected in at least 17 states.
Connecticut’s Department of Public Health says it expects more cases but for now the delta variant is still a concern.
“The delta variant is still very much here. It is what is causing most of our problems right now,” said DPH Commissioner Dr. Manisha Juthani.
Recently, delta has been the state’s most prevalent variant. It has led to a spike in hospitalizations and increased infection rate, which was at 5.8% over the weekend. DPH is calling for more to get vaccinations and booster shots.
“Your first two shots got you to a certain level. Waning immunity just means it is slowly coming down with time. When you get a booster, you start going back up,” Juthani explained.
Juthani says omicron is 10 times more transmissible than delta. While early indications are the variant could be less severe than delta, much is still to be learned.
“If it turns out that it is a less severe disease, that would be welcomed news,” said Juthani.
Of those hospitalized, DPH says between 70 and 80% are unvaccinated. While it is unclear how effective the vaccine is against omicron some doctors, say the shots are recommended.
“Getting boosted, getting vaccinated, is really the number one way that we can prevent the spread of omicron right now,” said UConn Health Chief of Infectious Diseases Dr. Kevin Dieckhaus.
With omicron’s confirmed presence, Dieckhaus they are now preparing for more. On November 22, UConn Health said it had four COVID-19 patients. They had 17 on Monday.
“We do expect an increase of cases over the next few weeks and eventually we expect that Omicron will probably take over,” Dieckhaus said.