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Missouri identifies first omicron COVID-19 variant in St. Louis

Missouri health officials have identified the first omicron variant of COVID-19 in an individual in St. Louis.  

The patient had recently traveled within the U.S., and a sample is awaiting confirmation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Information on the individual’s vaccination status was not immediately available. 

“Although there is much we still need to learn about this new variant, we do know the best tool currently available to protect ourselves from COVID-19 is personal prevention. I urge Missourians to seek information on the omicron variant from DHSS and trusted medical sources opposed to social media,” said Donald Kauerauf, Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) director. “We also encourage Missourians to remain vigilant in protecting themselves and staying informed this holiday season as this new variant is investigated further.” 

The first reported case of the omicron variant in the U.S. was found in California on Dec. 1. That individual had recently traveled to South Africa. 

Earlier this week, Missouri health officials said they were closely studying lab and environmental tests to monitor what variants are in the state. Health care providers are submitting specimens to the Missouri State Public Health Laboratory for surveillance. 

As of Friday, nearly 55 percent of Missourians who are at least 5 years old are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to data from the state’s health department. 

Missouri’s health department has identified more than 10,400 new COVID-19 cases in the past week. Overall, more than 170,000 people have died in Missouri from coronavirus.