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Orange County reports first case of omicron variant of COVID-19

UNC's first on-campus vaccine clinic opens Wednesday
A vaccine dose lies ready to be administered in the Student Union on March 31, 2021. As North Carolina began to allow college students to receive coronavirus vaccines, UNC opened a clinic on campus where students can receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

The Orange County Health Department reported the county's first case of the omicron variant in a press release Friday.

The Orange County resident who tested positive was fully vaccinated, but had not received a booster. They are currently in isolation with mild symptoms.

The variant case was confirmed through genomic sequencing conducted at UNC Hospitals, according to the press release.

“The first case of Omicron is a reminder of the importance of vaccination, boosters, and general prevention strategies needed to protect against COVID-19,” Orange County Health Director Quintana Stewart said in a statement Friday.

The omicron variant, first identified in South Africa, might spread more easily than other variants including the delta variant, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The first confirmed case of the variant in the U.S. was identified on Dec. 1. Omicron was confirmed to be in North Carolina on Monday.

The severity of illness and death associated with omicron is unclear due to the small number of cases, according to the CDC.

The delta variant continues to be the most dominant strain in the U.S., and it continues to rise in Orange County.

According to OCHD, there have been 344 new COVID-19 cases over the past two weeks — compared to 190 in the previous two weeks.

Health officials continue to recommend vaccination to community members to protect against COVID-19 variants, including omicron. OCHD also recommends residents wear well-fitting masks indoors and in crowded outdoor settings.

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