Health officials confirm first COVID-19 omicron variant cases in Wyandotte County

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The South African doctor who alerted officials of the possibility of a new variant, later named omicron, said the “unusual but mild” symptoms were what caught her attention. (Photo: Getty Images)

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — The Unified Government Public Health Department announced Monday that the first confirmed cases of the omicron variant of COVID-19 have been detected in Wyandotte County.

The health department said two omicron variant cases in people living in Wyandotte County were confirmed through the Kansas Department of Health and Environment lab over the weekend.

“With new COVID variants like Omicron, is more important than ever that we each take steps to
protect ourselves and others from COVID,” said Juliann Van Liew, director of the health department.

Last Thursday, Wyandotte County commissioners voted 6-4 to end its indoor mask mandate despite recommendation from public health officials to maintain it.

Health officials say many Wyandotte County residents remain unvaccinated with less than 50% fully vaccinated.

The health department said the two individuals in Wyandotte County are fully vaccinated with two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

“Vaccinations are still the best protection against serious illness and hospitalization from COVID, and boosters are especially important to help protect against omicron,” Liew said. “We also strongly encourage people to wear masks in public indoor spaces and continue social distancing.”

Liew said if you will be gathering or traveling for the holidays, they recommend testing before doing so, especially for those who are unvaccinated or are experiencing any symptoms.

Last week, two omicron variant cases were confirmed in Kansas, first in Franklin County and then in Douglas County.

The average number of new COVID-19 cases per day in Wyandotte County is 82, which is four times higher than it was at the end of October, according to the the county’s health department.

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