California Department of Public Health confirms first case of Omicron (B.1.1.529) in a San Luis Obispo County

SAN LUIS OBISPO — On Friday, Dec. 17, the County of San Luis Obispo Public Health Department received notice from the California Department of Public Health of the first confirmed case of Omicron (B.1.1.529) in a San Luis Obispo County resident. 

Public Health is withholding certain personal information such as age, gender, and other information to protect the identity of this community member.

“It was only a matter of time before the Omicron variant would find its way to our community and we want to reassure our community that we have a strong surveillance system in place to identify any future cases of COVID-19 that carry the Omicron variant,” said Dr. Penny Borenstein, County Health Officer. “Many of our community members already know what we need to do to reduce transmission and slow spread, and this includes getting vaccinated, boosted, tested if you feel sick or are a close contact, and wearing your mask in indoor public spaces.”

County Health reported that with the continued transmission and the possibility of a highly infectious new variant of concern, all residents across San Luis Obispo County should continue adhering to requirements and masking in indoor public spaces, regardless of vaccination status.

“We are committed to providing our community members with timely information about the Omicron variant and will provide updates as events warrant,” said Dr. Borenstein. “Until we know more about Omicron, I strongly encourage our community members to stay calm, remain vigilant, and use the tools and resources we have at our disposal to protect yourself, your families, and our community.”

While Delta is still the predominant variant locally, Public Health will keep the public informed as Omicron emerges and asks everyone to remain mindful of our current disease situation.

SLO County has had 153 new cases of COVID-19 since last Tuesday, with 15 residents in the hospital, including four people in the intensive care unit. This brings the 14-day daily case average to 39.

“Unfortunately, San Luis Obispo County remains in the red or worst tier of COVID-19 transmission as defined by the Centers for Disease Control, and this is not where we want to stay as we head into the winter months,” said Dr. Borenstein. “We have the tools and resources at our disposal to help prevent a winter surge and all variants of COVID-19… staying home when sick, masking in public indoor spaces, getting your vaccine doses, and your booster as soon as you are eligible.”

Reports by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated on Dec. 15; more data is needed to know if the Omicron variant infections, especially reinfections and breakthrough infections in fully vaccinated people, cause more severe illness or death than infection with other variants. Or how easily Omicron spreads compared to Delta remains unknown. CDC expects that anyone with Omicron infection can spread the virus to others, even if they are vaccinated or don’t have symptoms.

Currently, the CDC reported that the vaccines are expected to protect against severe illness, hospitalizations, and deaths due to infection with the Omicron variant. However, breakthrough infections in people who are fully vaccinated are likely to occur. 

Scientists are working to determine how well existing treatments for COVID-19 work. Based on the changed genetic make-up of Omicron, some treatments are likely to remain effective while others may be less effective.

According to the readyslo.org website, the total cases since March 2020 is 31,192 current active cases, 307 recovered cases, 30,505, and total deaths, 370, which is 0.01 percent of the total cases in San Luis Obispo County. 

According to the County, more than 72.3 percent of eligible San Luis Obispo County residents have received at least one dose of vaccine, and 65.5 percent are fully vaccinated. 

Variants found in San Luis County 

According to County Health, only a small number of COVID-19 positive samples are sequenced statewide and locally to determine the variant. For example, only 13 percent of samples were sequenced in California in June. 

1,414
Delta (B.1.617.2)
409
Epsilon (B.1.427/B.1.429)
340
Alpha (B.1.1.7)
47
Gamma (P.1)
8
Beta (B.1.351)
1
Omicron (B.1.1.529)

Statewide COVID-19 Data

Vaccinations

  • 62,762,797 total vaccines administered.
  • 78.4% of the eligible population (5+) has been vaccinated with at least one dose.
  • 189, 079 people a day are receiving COVID-19 vaccination (average daily dose count over 7 days). 

Cases

  • California has 4,935,461 confirmed cases to date.
  • Today’s average case count is 5,296 (average daily case count over 7 days). 

Testing

  • The testing positivity rate is 2.8% (average rate over 7 days). 

Hospitalizations

  • There are 3,854 hospitalizations statewide.
  • There are 971 ICU patients statewide. 

Deaths

  • There have been 75,167 COVID-19 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
  • 0.015 percent of the total cases in California 

Recovered 

  • California has 4,860,294 recovered cases to date.

On Dec. 16, the CDC released two reports in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report highlighting the use of test-to-stay practices used in schools to minimize absenteeism and learning loss which can occur during traditional quarantine at home.

The CDC reported that the Test-to-Stay is a tool in a layered prevention strategy that includes promoting vaccination of eligible students and staff, requiring everyone age 2 and older wear a mask inside schools and facilities, keeping at least 3 feet of distance between students, screening testing, ventilation, handwashing, and staying home when sick.

Additionally, the CDC recommends that everyone ages five years and older get a COVID-19 vaccine to help protect against COVID-19. Adolescents ages 16 years and older can get a booster shot at least six months after a primary series. 

As for San Luis Obispo County, no additional restrictions or testing has been announced at this time.

For updates on COVID-19 in SLO County, visit ReadySLO.org or call the recorded Public Health Information Line at (805)788-2903. Phone assistance is available at (805)781-5500 Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information on COVID-19 vaccine, visit RecoverSLO.org/Vaccine.