Orange County expecting arrival of omicron variant of COVID-19

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Saturday, December 4, 2021
OC anticipating omicron variant
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The discovery of the COVID-19 omicron variant in California means it's a matter of time before it shows up in Orange County, local officials say.

The discovery of the COVID-19 omicron variant in Los Angeles and other parts of California means it's only a matter of time before it shows up in Orange County, local health officials say.

The best defense against that likelihood, they note, is vaccination.

"We shouldn't panic," says county Supervisor Katrina Foley. "The good news is we have more than 2 million people vaccinated and we have tools to be able to prevent the spread."

According to the county's health care agency, 65% of people living in OC are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

But there's still a lot left to learn about how well current vaccines stand up against the omicron variant.

Until then, the county's deputy health director recommends we stick to the basics: Masks, outdoor, small gatherings, physical distancing and vaccinations to prevent spread.

For now, they don't think more drastic measures or lockdowns are needed.

"Something massive has to change or cause significant severe illness for us to go back to lockdowns," says Dr. Regina Chinsio-Kwong, the county's deputy health director.

Starting Dec. 8 another tool to help control spread of the virus will be increased access to at-home testing with kits.

Passengers arriving at John Wayne Airport will be offered to take one for free.

They'll also be at schools, clinics and already available to order online.

Chinsio-Kwong warns that although Orange County is looking good with the lowest case rate in Southern California at 5.7%, numbers following the Thanksgiving holiday aren't in yet.

County leaders recommend people stock up on the kits to be ready to get tested on short notice. You can send the tests in via FedEx and have results within two days.