On November 26, 2021, the World Health Organization classified a new COVID-19 variant, B.1.1.529, as a Variant of Concern and named it Omicron. On November 30th, the United States also classified Omicron as a Variant of Concern, and on December 1st, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) confirmed the first case of Omicron in the United States.
While there is still much to learn about the Omicron variant, we do know that it has many mutations in important areas of the virus that impact infectiousness and the ability for immune systems to protect from infection. Some of the mutations are concerning to scientists because they are very different from other variants previously detected.
At this time, we don’t know if the Omicron variant causes more severe COVID-19 illness than other variants or how it might impact response to treatment. Public Health officials are tracking the variant and providing information to the public as it becomes available. For the most current information, see CDPH’s fact sheet on the Omicron variant.
How to Protect Yourself
There are four specific actions that Californians can take to help slow the spread of COVID-19, including the Omicron variant.
- Get Vaccinated. All COVID-19 vaccines currently available in California are safe and effective at preventing serious illness from COVID-19. Californians ages 5 and older are now eligible for vaccination. Additionally, those over the age of 18 who are at least six months out from their last dose of Pfizer or Moderna, or at least two months out from J&J, are eligible for a booster. Learn more about where to get your vaccination at MyNevadaCounty.com/GetVaccinated. Join the 72% of eligible Nevada County residents who have already received at least one dose!
- Wear a Mask. In California, masks are required in indoor public places for everyone who is not fully vaccinated. Due to ongoing widespread transmission and the highly infectious Delta variant that is currently circulating, Nevada County also has a health order in place requiring everyone to where a mask in indoor public settings, regardless of vaccination status, and in crowded outdoor settings where people are unable to maintain at least six feet of distance.
- Get Tested. You should immediately get tested for COVID-19 if you are feeling any symptoms, regardless of your vaccination status. COVID-19 symptoms can feel like a common cold (including just "the sniffles"), seasonal allergies, or flu. Find more information about free testing sites in Nevada County at MyNevadaCounty.com/Coronavirus/Testing.
- Stay Home If You’re Feeling Sick. If you have any symptoms of COVID-19, stay home to help prevent the potential spread of the virus.