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FIRST IDENTIFIED CASES OF COVID-19 OMICRON VARIANT IN MESA COUNTY

Mesa County Public Health (MCPH) has identified three Mesa County residents who have tested positive for the Omicron COVID-19 variant. Two individuals are under the age of 60 and one is a teenager. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and global public health partners continue to learn about Omicron as it spreads. From what we know so far, the Omicron variant seems to spread more easily than the original SARS-CoV-2 virus. How easily Omicron spreads compared to Delta remains unknown, however, according to statewide data, more than 90% of COVID-19 cases are now the Omicron variant in Colorado, a significant increase from just two weeks ago. More data are needed to know if Omicron infections cause more severe illness or death than infection with other variants.

As we learn more about the severity of the variant, it’s important for community members to practice layered protection. MCPH recommends individuals get vaccinated and get their booster shots when eligible and strongly recommends the use of face coverings in public indoor spaces regardless of vaccination status. Other prevention measures such as staying home when sick, limiting large gatherings, and washing hands frequently are also recommended. Additionally, a monoclonal antibody treatment center is open through January 3 in Fruita for those who have tested positive or have a recent high-risk exposure to COVID-19. 

Currently available vaccines reduce the risk of severe illness, hospitalization, and death due to infection with the Omicron variant. Early data shows strong evidence that individuals who have received three doses of an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) have stronger protection against COVID-19 strains, including the Omicron variant, than those who have only received two doses. While breakthrough infections after vaccination are possible, vaccination helps protect against severe illness and hospitalization.  

If you are experiencing symptoms, it’s important to stay away from others and get a COVID-19 test. Free tests are available at three community testing sites at the Mesa County Fairgrounds, Colorado Mesa University, and Long Family Park. Mesa County Public Health offers COVID-19 vaccines at our community vaccination site, located at 510 29 ½ Road, Wednesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Walk-ins are accepted but appointments are encouraged. Pediatric (5-17) vaccines are given by appointment only. Scheduling information for a COVID-19 vaccine through MCPH can be found here as well as at numerous local pharmacies and physician offices throughout Mesa County.

With this new information and as we prepare for the New Years holiday and the return of students to classrooms, MCPH recommends keeping these strategies in mind to reduce the spread of COVID-19: 

  • Get vaccinated against COVID-19 and get your booster shot. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently expanded COVID-19 booster recommendations for everyone 16 and older. 
  • Individuals who feel sick or are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 should seek testing and stay home while ill
  • If you are ill, consult with your doctor or health care provider to see if you are a candidate for monoclonal antibody treatment or other COVID-19 therapeutics.
  • Wear a face covering in public indoor settings, regardless of vaccination status.
  • Stay home when sick.