SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. — Two cases of the omicron variant of COVID-19 have been identified in Shelby County, according to the Shelby County Health Department.
It's unclear if those who are infected traveled anywhere recently and if they were hospitalized.
“We did expect the omicron variant to appear in Tennessee, as it has in 19 other states," Dr. Michelle Taylor, Shelby County Health Director, said. Shelby County has excellent COVID-19 testing capacity, with several local laboratories which perform viral DNA sequencing as a part of routine surveillance. For that reason, our laboratories were able to identify the tell-tale DNA signature of this new variant. These results indicate the variant may already be spreading in Shelby County and possibly elsewhere in the state.”
While much remains unknown about the omicron variant, health officials said what is known is that COVID-19 vaccines slow transmission of the virus and prevent severe illness, hospitalization and death.
The health department recommends that everyone eligible to get vaccinated should get their shot as soon as possible, and those who are fully vaccinated should get a booster shot if at least six months have passed since their second shot.
Results of early studies indicate the booster doses may provide valuable protection against the omicron variant, as well as the more common delta variant.
COVID-19 vaccines are available all over Shelby County, and dozens of clinics and pharmacy sites. Click here to find a vaccination site near you.
You can also click here to find public COVID-19 testing sites.
According to a release, masks are still required in schools covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act, on public transportation and in certain congregate living settings. Masks are also highly recommended in all indoor settings when the vaccination status of everyone is not known. Masks, social distancing, and vaccines for those eligible to be vaccinated, provide valuable layers of protection against the COVID-19 virus, including all of its variants.