Kanawha County confirms first case of omicron variant

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The state’s largest county has its first confirmed case of the omicron variant of COVID-19.

Kanawha-Charleston Health Department confirmed the case Monday afternoon, “The Kanawha-Charleston Health Department was notified today that the first case of the Omicron variant has been detected in Kanawha County in a male who tested positive for COVID-19.”

The health department further stated that appropriate contact tracing is being conducted as it relates to this case. Because Omicron is highly transmissible, protocols for contact tracing, quarantines, and testing are stricter, the release said.

“It’s very aggressive strain, it’s highly transmissible, and even to people who have been vaccinated,” Sherri Young, Interim Chief Health Officer of the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department (KCHD) said during an appearance on Monday’s MetroNews ‘Talkline’ before the case was announced.

Dr. Sherri Young

KCHD said close contacts who are unvaccinated should undergo a strict 14-day quarantine. Those who have been vaccinated and have been in close contact should be tested 3-5 days from exposure while also wearing a mask for 14 days from exposure, the health department further stated.

Young said even if symptoms are milder in the omicron variant, the best thing to do is to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

“It’s a better policy, it’s better overall to get vaccinated. It’s better overall for your health to do that and not take a chance,” she said.

The KCHD will be open Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday of this week, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and will be offering free testing, COVID-19 vaccines and boosters. There will be a special drive-thru testing and vaccination clinic on Wednesday from Noon until 5 pm at the KCHD.

Young said the drive-thru Wednesday is encouraged for those who traveled during the holiday season. She wants to control the virus before people head back to school or work.

“If you’ve traveled and you don’t know the status of the people you’ve been around, if you’ve been flying or large events. if you’ve been around family members who maybe were vaccinated, come to the drive-thru,” Young said.

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