First U.S. omicron cases mostly mild but much still unknown about its transmission, new CDC study finds

<p><p>Most early cases of the new omicron variant seem to be mild, <a href=”” target=”_blank”>a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found</a>.</p></p><p><p>Of the 43 COVID cases of omicron in the U.S. that were studied, only one required hospitalization, and no deaths were reported. Most people infected said they only experienced a cough, fatigue and a runny nose.</p></p><p><p>It could still be too early to tell how the variant will spread and what its outcomes could be. The first case in the U.S. began experiencing symptoms on Nov. 15, according to the report.</p></p><p><p>Those who are vaccinated or had a previous infection could also be less likely to see severe illness. Of the people studied, nearly 80% had been fully vaccinated, including some who had received an additional booster dose. More than half were between the ages of 18 and 39.</p></p><p><p>The full scope of how quickly the variant can spread will take time to resolve, the report says.</p></p><p><p>“Even if most infections are mild, a highly transmissible variant could result in enough cases to overwhelm health systems,” the CDC report says.</p></p><p><p>During the first week of December, 22 states, including Washington, reported at least one omicron case. The Washington Department of Health on Saturday announced the state had three cases of the new variant. Patients in Thurston, Pierce and King counties – all in their 20s and 30s – tested positive for the new variant.</p></p><p><p>Health officials in King County said Wednesday <a href=”” target=”_blank”>the original patient had experienced mild illness and did not require hospitalization</a>. There was no indication of widespread exposure from the case, indicating it has been spreading locally, according to the department.</p></p><p><p>Pierce and Thurston counties were not releasing additional details on their omicron cases.</p></p><p><p>Central District Health in Idaho <a href=”” target=”_blank”>announced Friday</a> the first omicron case in the state was found in Ada County. The resident, who was fully vaccinated, was older than 50 and experienced mild symptoms.</p></p><p><p>“It’s important for people to realize that this new and highly transmissible variant has now been detected in Idaho, and many areas across the U.S.,” Lindsay Haskell, the health district’s communicable disease control manager, said in a statement. Haskell emphasized the importance of vaccination ahead of the holiday travel season.</p></p><p><p>It is likely additional infections from omicron will be detected in the coming days, according to the CDC.</p></p><p><p>To slow the transmission of omicron and other variants, the CDC recommends vaccination, masking, testing and quarantine.</p></p><p><p>The CDC updated its booster guidance to include recommendations for 16- and 17-year-olds after <a href=”” target=”_blank”>the Food and Drug Administration granted emergency use authorization to Pfizer boosters for those teens</a>.</p></p><p><p>“Although we don’t have all the answers on the omicron variant, initial data suggests that COVID-19 boosters help broaden and strengthen the protection against omicron and other variants,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in a statement Thursday.</p></p><p><h3>Here’s a look at today’s numbers</h3></p><p><p>The Spokane Regional Health District reported 76 new COVID-19 cases and one additional death Friday.</p></p><p><p>There have been 1,117 deaths due to the virus in the county.</p></p><p><p>There are 66 people hospitalized with the virus in Spokane.</p></p><p><p>The Panhandle Health District reported 52 new COVID-19 cases and four new deaths Friday.</p></p><p><p>There have been 742 deaths to the virus in the five-county region.</p></p><p><p>There are 77 Panhandle residents hospitalized with the virus.</p></p>