L.A. County reports another 60 omicron cases as variant spreads

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Los Angeles County reported another 60 cases of the omicron coronavirus variant on Monday.

That’s a major increase since Friday, when the county had a total of 38 known cases of the worrisome new variant.

This mirrors nationwide trends.

On Monday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that omicron has raced ahead of other variants to become the dominant version of the coronavirus in the U.S.

It accounted for 73% of new infections nationwide last week, federal health officials said.

The omicron variant was first identified by scientists in South Africa less than a month ago and dubbed a variant of concern due to its many mutations. Since then, it was reported in 90 countries.

The first U.S. case was announced on Dec. 1 in San Francisco. The case involved a traveler who had returned to California from South Africa late last month.

The highly transmissible variant is now increasingly being identified throughout California amid an uptick in coronavirus infection and hospitalization numbers.

Health officials have warned that L.A. County could already be seeing the beginning of another COVID-19 winter surge.

The county has reported more than 3,200 coronavirus every day since Friday — a notable increase from previous daily case numbers, which have largely remained below 2,000 in recent weeks. 

The number of outbreaks rose in nearly every sector tracked by L.A. County’s health department last week, most notably going up 118% in the education sector, officials said.

“Evidence is mounting that for those vaccinated months ago, boosters are necessary to provide the best defense from infection with and transmission of the Omicron variant. Vaccinations also continue to provide excellent protection from the Delta variant,” L.A. County Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement.

The health director said skilled nursing facilities aren’t seeing increased outbreaks, and that’s a result of a widespread uptake of booster shots at the facilities.

“This aligns with other information gathered from around the country demonstrating the power of boosters, and the importance of getting boosted as soon as possible once eligible,” Ferrer said. “Given the rising case numbers, the high rate of community transmission, and all the evidence that, over time, our immune systems need a boost to be able to attack the COVID virus, no one eligible should delay getting their booster dose.”

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