UPDATE: The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health confirmed a fourth case of Covid-19 with mutations consistent with the new Omicron variant. While the previous three cases have all been traced back to infection outside the community, this latest infection is a possible result of local transmission.
The infected individual is fully vaccinated and received a booster. The individual had mild symptoms and had multiple close contacts who have since tested positive and are self-isolating. Several of the close contacts are fully vaccinated, while the vaccination status of some is still being determined.
L.A officials are working to determine if these additional cases are of the Omicron variant.
“The identification of a case of Omicron attributed to community spread is a reminder that we all need to take necessary precautions to prevent transmission of COVID-19,” Barbara Ferrer, PhD, MPH, MEd, Director of Public Health. “Celebrating with those we love this holiday season requires layering on the protections that are now available to us: vaccinations, boosters, masking up, and testing. This is how we slow the spread of Delta and Omicron.”
New daily Covid cases across Los Angeles have risen more than 100% in the past 10 days.
PREVIOUSLY on Monday: The newest case of the Omicron variant identified in Los Angeles was found in a student who attends USC, the university announced today. The student was fully vaccinated, according to L.A. Public Health officials. The individual recently traveled to the East Coast, per LAPH. “Based on travel history, it is likely that the infection was acquired outside of Los Angeles County,” announced L.A. officials.
A statement from USC added that the student “is currently isolating and doing well.” Apparently, other people on campus have also been isolated. Per the university: “All campus close contacts have been identified, were notified, and are in quarantine.”
Even so, according to the statement, the student was not on campus “during their infectious period.”
The university indicated that the infection “was detected as part of USC’s routine surveillance testing program.”
Los Angeles County has begun seeing a slight rise in daily Covid-19 infections numbers in recent days, possibly a reflection of Thanksgiving holiday gatherings. Hospitalizations due to the virus have also climbed upward, again topping 600 on Monday.
According to state figures, there were 629 Covid-positive people in Los Angeles County hospitals as of Monday, up from 595 on Sunday. The number of those patients being treated in intensive care was 151, up from 146 a day earlier.
The county on Monday reported 1,103 new cases of Covid and two additional deaths associated with the virus — low numbers that likely reflect weekend reporting delays.
The rolling average daily rate of people testing positive for the virus was 1.2% as of Monday. That’s up from below 1% about two weeks ago.
PREVIOUSLY on Dec. 2: The first case of the omicron variant has arrived in Los Angeles, according to the County Department of Public Health. Its announcement follows an earlier one on a case in New York City.
For Los Angeles, the unnamed patient returned to Los Angeles County after travel to South Africa via London on Nov. 22. The L.A. DOH speculated that this meant the infection is most likely travel-related.
The individual was described as a fully vaccinated adult and a Los Angeles County resident. He is self-isolating, and his symptoms are improving without medical care. A small number of close contacts in Los Angeles have been identified and, to date, all have tested negative and have no symptoms.
“Throughout the pandemic, we have always known there would be more mutations, resulting in the possibility of a more dangerous variant than the Delta variant,” said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, PhD, MPH, MEd, Director of Public Health. She went on to admit that the “impact of omicron” is uncertain.
The infected man “reported traveling to New York City and attending the Anime New York City 2021 at the Javits Center from the 19th through the 21st [of November],” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki announced this morning. He “developed mild symptoms on November 22 and sought COVID-19 testing on November 24,” according to the CDC. His symptoms have since resolved, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.
There was no mention of any recent travel to Africa in this case. The man, who is an adult, is vaccinated.
WH Press Sec. Jen Psaki briefs reporters on Minnesota Omicron variant case, saying vaccinated adult male attended anime convention at NYC's Javits Center from November 19th-21st. pic.twitter.com/6s3JODyyf6
— The Recount (@therecount) December 2, 2021
The anime event was expected to attract over 50,000 fans, who were required to show proof of vaccination and wear a mask.
“We should assume there is community spread of the variant in our city,” said New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, according to The New York Daily News.
NY Governor Kathy Hochul said officials believe the man caught Omicron in her state. She also said that there are no confirmed cases in New York as of yet.
The first U.S. case of the highly-mutated variant was announced yesterday. It was identified in San Francisco. The infected person, said to be between 18 and 45 years old, had recently arrived via airplane from South Africa, where the variant was first discovered.
City News Service contributed to this report.