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More cases of omicron variant found in Clark, Washoe counties

Updated December 20, 2021 - 4:27 pm

The Nevada State Public Health Laboratory has confirmed three new cases of the omicron variant in the state — two of them in Clark County — bringing the total in the state to five, the lab’s director said Monday.

The first confirmed case of the more-contagious mutant in Washoe County was found in a man in his early 50s who had recently travelled both internationally and in the U.S., the Washoe County Health District said in a news release. He had been fully vaccinated and also had gotten a booster shot.

The man is recovering at home, the district said.

It was “only a matter of time before we identified this variant in Washoe County,” District Health Officer Kevin Dick said in the release. “The best form of protection residents can take against all variants is getting fully vaccinated and receiving a booster.”

Mark Pandori, director of the state public health lab at University of Nevada, Reno, said two new Clark County cases also had been confirmed but had no details on them.

Federal health officials said Monday that omicron is now the dominant version of the coronavirus in the U.S., accounting for 73 percent of new infections in the last week, the Associated Press reported.

“We are in for a rough ride here again this winter,” Pandori said.

The first case detected in Nevada was announced by the Southern Nevada Health District on Dec. 14. The case was in a fully vaccinated Clark County woman in her mid-20s who was not hospitalized. She had not received a booster shot.

The second identified case was confirmed on Friday by the Nevada State Public Health Laboratory in an unvaccinated woman who was tested in Churchill County, said Shannon Litz, a representative of the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services.

The case remains under investigation, Litz said in an email.

Early evidence suggests that omicron is better able to evade antibodies produced by prior infection or vaccination, but that its cases typically are milder than those of the delta variant, which remains the dominant strain in Nevada.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Contact Mary Hynes at mhynes@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0336. Follow @MaryHynes1 on Twitter. Review-Journal staff writer Ricardo Torres-Cortez contributed to this report.

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