Denver identifies its first 2 cases of the omicron variant

Variant becomes dominant strain in U.S.
Virus Outbreak France_indoor masks.jpg
Posted at 4:00 PM, Dec 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-20 18:03:11-05

DENVER — Health officials announced Monday that two people in the city of Denver have tested positive for the COVID-19 omicron variant. It’s the first time the variant has been identified in the city.

The two cases were community-acquired, according to the Denver Department of Public Health & Environment, indicating community transmission in the area.

The new mutation has now been detected in at least five Colorado counties as of Monday. Cases have been reported in Arapahoe, Boulder, Jefferson, and Garfield counties. It was first identified in the state in mid-November.

This comes as federal health officials announced the same day that omicron has raced ahead of other variants and is now the dominant version of the virus in the U.S., accounting for 73% of new infections last week.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention numbers show nearly a six-fold increase in the proportion of infections in only one week.

Health experts have not yet been able to ascertain whether omicron will lead to more severe illness, hospitalization, or death. However, early studies indicate a booster dose of the vaccine provides additional protection against the variant.

The Associated Press contributed to this report