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Southern Nevada's next steps with Omicron variant next door

Posted at 7:19 PM, Dec 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-01 23:23:13-05

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — It is here—the first case of the Omicron variant has reached American shores in the San Francisco Bay area.

With the variant being so close to the Las Vegas area, preparations are being made to keep our community response ready to limit any potential spread.

The Southern Nevada Health District says finding the variant in the US should not come as a surprise, and the expectation is that we will find more cases.

The case in San Francisco involves a woman who recently traveled to South Africa.

She is vaccinated, experiencing minor symptoms, and is currently self-isolating.

If Omicron shows up in our area, the health district says it will use existing contact-tracing and quarantining strategies to minimize transmission.

SNHD says in the early going it is encouraging to see that regions with widespread Omicron cases are not seeing large increases in severe illness or death.

“The current vaccines that we do have in place are likely to be effective against this variant,” said Dr. Cort Lohff, the chief medical officer with SNHD. “[They] may not be as effective as against the current variants that we’re seeing, but it’ll offer some protection. So, with that in mind, we want to encourage people who have not yet been vaccinated to go out and do that.”

And when it comes to how this will affect businesses, do not expect a knee-jerk reaction just yet.

“I mean, if it goes out that businesses must do A, B, and C, then they’re going to do that,” said Anthony Curtis, a financial expert with LasVegasAdvisor.com. “If they have a choice, and there’s really no consensus about what needs to be done, I think less is more when it comes to this in terms of not limiting what their customers can do.”

Dr. Lohff says we should learn considerably more about this variant over the course of the next week or so to better judge its risks.