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Science, Health, Tech

Omicron variant arrives in the First State

An illustration created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the coronavirus. (Courtesy CDC)
CDC
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An illustration created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the coronavirus. (Courtesy CDC)

The first COVID cases involving the Omicron variant have turned up in Delaware.

The Div. of Public Health announced Friday four Omicron cases were found during routine testing.

The cases are all in New Castle County. They involve two adults in their 30s, a teenager and a child under the age of 10.

Two individuals were fully vaccinated, while the other two were unvaccinated. None of the cases involved a known history of travel.

"With cases of the Omicron variant detected in our surrounding states, it was only a matter of time until we detected this variant in Delaware,” said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. “We are closely watching the science around this new variant. While it is encouraging that most individuals infected with this strain have reported minor symptoms, we still have a lot more to learn about Omicron."

Rattay adds the state is monitoring the science surrounding the Omicron variant, noting early studies indicate boosters may play a significant role in fighting it. They show Pfizer and Moderna booster doses are much more effective against the Omicron variant than having just two doses.

Delaware has seen a DPH has seen a significant rise in new positive cases over the past month. The 7-day average of new positive cases is now 677, up from 596.6 last week.

The 7-day average for the percentage of total positive tests jumped from 9.3% to 9.8% over the past 7 days.

And hospitalizations are now at 359 - 42 more than a week ago and the highest number since late January.

But DPH points out Delta remains the dominant strain circulating in here and nationwide.

State officials continue to encourage those who have not been vaccinated to do so – and those who have been to get a booster.

“While rising cases are a significant cause for concern, the public should understand that we have the public health tools in our toolbox to continue to fight this virus,” said Rattay. “Our data continue to show that new positive cases and hospitalizations are predominantly occurring among those who are unvaccinated. Vaccines remain the most critical tool to protect us against severe disease.”