Omicron Variant on test tube - New Variant of COVID-19

Omicron variant case increase

December 30, 2021

The new, highly contagious, omicron variant is responsible for a recent spike in Garfield County COVID-19 cases. In a period of three weeks, omicron became the dominant variant in Colorado, representing 91 percent of cases statewide.

Garfield County experienced a jump from 25 cases per day prior to the Christmas holiday, to 136 new positive results on Wednesday, December 29. The county averaged 62 cases per day over the past seven days.

Despite this unwelcome news, there is reason for optimism
The majority, 71 percent of Garfield County residents, have at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 43 percent have received a booster dose. Early reports suggest that the majority of those infected with omicron experience less severe disease, especially those who have been vaccinated.

The CDC updated guidance on isolation and quarantine to match the changing infectiousness of the omicron variant. Though more people are contracting the virus, symptoms are not lasting as long. For the recently boosted and vaccinated, this means less time in isolation or quarantine.

The guidance reduces the recommended time in isolation for those in the general population with COVID-19 from 10 to five days, if asymptomatic on day five, followed by an additional five days wearing a mask when around others. This change is based on data that the majority of COVID-19 transmission occurs early in the course of illness.

People tend to be most infectious two days before experiencing symptoms. Therefore, it is recommended that people get a COVID-19 test before holiday parties and events.

Enjoy the holidays by reducing risks of the pandemic
“We know that the majority of people in Garfield County have been very careful when it comes to vaccinations, masking and social distancing. We’re asking people to participate in harm reduction activities over this weekend. Meaning, we can’t eliminate all risk, but we can reduce it,” said Mason Hohstadt, public health specialist with Garfield County.

• Reduce the number of New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day events you attend.
• Gather in smaller numbers.
• Increase ventilation in spaces, such as private homes.
• Wear a mask indoors, especially if around people you don’t know.
• Ask guests to take a test beforehand, and let them know that anyone not feeling well should stay home and get well.

“By taking a little extra caution before going to parties or other gatherings, you can reduce the chances that you are spreading the virus to others. This is how we can reduce the volume to which we are spreading this current variant,” added Hohstadt.

For those who develop symptoms, it is best to test as soon as possible. There are treatment options that are available within the county, used under the direction of a physician. Starting treatment as soon as possible is recommended for those who are at risk of severe complications from COVID-19.

 Omicron variant 91% of COVID 19 cases state wide
Garfield County case increase from 25 a day pre-Christmas to 136 cases per day on December 29 (62 cases per day average over past 7 days)
Reasons for optimism
 71% of Garfield County residents one dose of vaccine
 43% of Garfield County residents two doses and boosted
 Early data indicates omicron may cause less severe illness, especially in vaccinated individuals
 CDC updates isolation and quarantine guidance (shortening in some circumstances) to match changing infectiousness of omicron
 People are most infectious two days before experiencing symptoms
Holiday recommendations practice harm reduction
Test before attending events/gatherings, attend fewer events, stay home if you have any symptoms, increase air flow in gathering spaces, wear masks
 Learn about treatment options if you are at risk of severe COVID complications

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