Two additional cases of the omicron variant of COVID-19 have been detected in Los Angeles County, public health officials announced Friday.
The two cases are not related, with one individual having recently traveled to several countries in Africa, and the other as a result of local transmission, the L.A. County Department of Public Health said in a news release.
The traveler is a fully vaccinated student who had mild symptoms, officials said. The individual has not received a booster dose.
The department identified multiple close contacts, all of whom are vaccinated and have tested negative.
The second case is a person with no recent travel history, who is also fully vaccinated and had mild symptoms. The individual has not received a booster dose.
The Public Health Department has identified multiple close contacts, a number of whom are vaccinated and have tested negative. One additional close contact has tested positive and is isolating at home.
The latest omicron cases bring the total to seven countywide, including one infection in Long Beach, which has its own public health department.
“We anticipate seeing increased numbers of individuals infected with the Omicron variant as we are beginning to see cases of local transmission among residents that have not traveled,” Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said. “All indications are that among those fully vaccinated, illness severity if infected with Omicron is mild reminding us that all eligible residents need to urgently get vaccinated or boosted.”
The two new cases come a day after the health director warned that the county could be seeing the beginning of another COVID-19 winter surge.
The region’s estimated weekly coronavirus case rate now stands at 113 new cases per 100,000 residents, putting the nation’s most populated county back in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “high transmission” category for COVID-19.
Ferrer said any increases in COVID-19 numbers are “worrisome,” especially since the county has moved from having “substantial” transmission back to “high” transmission.
Still, the health director noted that the county is better off than it was during the last winter, before vaccines were available.
So far, 68% of L.A. County residents aged five and older are fully vaccinated. Around 77% have received at least one dose.
All county residents are urged to get vaccinated or boosted, get tested to help reduce the spread (especially if you traveled for the holidays or have had a possible exposure or symptoms), and adhere to masking requirements when indoors or at large outdoor mega events, regardless of vaccination status.
The department also reminded residents that they are legally required to be isolated if they have a positive COVID test result and that vaccinated close contacts with symptoms and unvaccinated close contacts need to be quarantined.