Omicron lands in Pitkin County after Mexico traveler tests positive
Omicron officially has arrived in Pitkin County.
The county’s Public Health Department said in a news release it was notified Monday “that a vaccinated individual tested positive for the COVID-19 omicron variant.”
“There are now six confirmed cases of the variant in the state,” according to the release. “Although the recent Garfield County (omicron) case did not have any recent travel, the individual from Pitkin County had traveled, similarly to the initial cases detected in early December.”
The Pitkin County resident recently traveled to Mexico, Josh Vance, county epidemiologist, said later.
Omicron was first identified in Colorado in an Arapahoe County resident who’d recently traveled to South Africa and has been detected in Boulder County’s wastewater, suggesting community transmission. After Garfield County announced its first case last week, Pitkin County’s public health director said the variant was likely already here.
On Monday, Vance confirmed public health officials were ready for omicron.
“We anticipated that it was only a matter of time before we would see the omicron variant in our county,” he said in the news release. “Although the delta variant still currently accounts for most cases in Pitkin County and Colorado, research suggests that the omicron variant is more transmissible than the delta variant and will likely become the predominant variant circulating in Pitkin County in the next several weeks.”
Pitkin County and Colorado’s public health department are jointly monitoring the spread of omicron locally and statewide. Local health workers talk with everyone who tests positive for COVID-19 and conduct contact tracing in an effort to slow local transmission, Vance said.
After a post-Thanksgiving lull in COVID-19 cases, Pitkin County’s incidence rate of the virus has doubled in the past week, Vance said. Data from weekend cases was scheduled to post online Monday night and was not available earlier Monday.
“Public Health encourages everyone experiencing any symptoms to get tested, particularly before spending time with friends and family,” according to Monday’s release.
Vaccines and boosters provide the best protection against infection, and against severe disease and death in the event of breakthrough cases, which have been common, according to public health officials. Preliminary research indicates that Pfizer and Moderna vaccines “work against omicron,” Vance said.
“Those who received two doses of Moderna or Pfizer should get another dose of Moderna or Pfizer,” he said. “And similarly, those who received a (Johnson & Johnson) dose should get a Moderna or Pfizer booster.”
Go to covid19.pitkincounty.com for information on testing, vaccines and boosters, as well as local data.