First case of omicron variant confirmed in Whatcom County

BELLINGHAM, Wash. — The first case of the new omicron variant has been confirmed in Whatcom County, the Washington State Department of Health said on Friday.

Health officials said a vaccinated man in his 30s, who is in isolation, tested positive for the variant.

“The presence of omicron in our county really highlights the importance of getting vaccinated, and getting a booster,” said Whatcom County Health Department’s Communicable Disease and Epidemiology Manager Cindy Hollinsworth. “Breakthrough infections happen, but vaccines are still the best defense we have against this virus and all its variants. Masks are the next best defense. And if anyone feels sick, if anyone has a fever, a cough, trouble breathing or any other symptoms of COVID-19, they need to get tested right away, even if they’re fully vaccinated. Isolate at home until you get your test result, and call your health care provider.”

The new variant was first detected in three western Washington counties — Thurston, Pierce and King — on Dec. 4.

There are still a lot of unknowns about the variant as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it spreads more easily than other variants. However, it is still not known if it spreads more easily than the Delta variant.

Health officials are still trying to determine if the new variant causes more serious illness than other variants or how current vaccines work against it.