Missouri confirms first case of omicron variant in the state. Here’s what we know

·2 min read
Orlin Wagner/Associated Press file photo

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services announced the first case of the omicron COVID-19 variant in the state on Friday.

The department was notified of a St. Louis resident who was “presumed positive” for the omicron COVID variant after their test was taken to a commercial laboratory for surveillance. The person had recently traveled domestically. The state health department is awaiting confirmation of the positive result from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The omicron variant was classified as a variant of concern by the World Health Organization last week.

“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,” said Donald Kauerauf, director of the Department of Health and Senior Services.

“We also encourage Missourians to remain vigilant in protecting themselves and staying informed this holiday season as this new variant is investigated further,” he said in a statement.

The severity of the disease caused by omicron is still unknown.

Kauerauf urged anyone looking for more information to seek out trusted medical sources.

The department also encouraged anyone age 5 or older to complete their vaccination. Missourians over the age of 18 are eligible for a booster. Currently just over half of the state is fully vaccinated and 58% have received their first vaccine, according to department data.

The delta variant still comprises 99% of the COVID cases in Missouri, according to Kauerauf.

Missouri has administered 106,353 vaccinations in the past seven days, according to department data. Within that same time span, there were 10,449 new cases and 15 deaths from the virus. About 1,460 people were reported hospitalized.

A Department of Health and Senior Services report obtained by the Missouri Independent showed Missouri cities that used mask mandates to combat the pandemic saw fewer infections.