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Sioux Falls health officials on Omicron Variant

Published: Dec. 1, 2021 at 10:49 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - The CDC and California health officials announced Wednesday the Omicron variant was detected in a vaccinated traveler who returned to San Fransico after a trip to South Africa.

The Omicron variant still has many unknowns, so health officials will be looking to see what changes this variant brings with it.

“What we don’t know for sure yet is: Does it cause more severe illness? Can it escape natural immunity or vaccine immunity? How much will it spread among higher vaccinated populations?” said Dr. David Basel, Avera Medical Group Vice President of Clinical Quality.

Sioux Falls health officials expect more cases of the new variant to appear throughout the country, including in the Midwest.

“It’s probably safe to assume that if it’s in San Francisco, it’s probably across the United States, this is the way this virus has mutated all along, is that we may not be testing specifically for it as early as other countries, but it is very likely in the Midwest and in the northeast,” said Dr. Jennifer Tinguely, City of Sioux Falls Chief Medical Officer

While the new variant is concerning, health officials are focused on the increase of new cases and hospitalizations. In South Dakota, the Department of Health reported more than 900 new cases and 15 more deaths Tuesday, the highest report of single-day deaths since early October.

“I want people to be aware that we still have a lot of coronavirus disease activity going on so it is important to keep doing those things that we know work, masking, staying home when you’re sick, getting tested if you’re sick so we can slow this down because it affects all of us,” said Tinguely.

For Sioux Falls health officials, the message remains the same.

“Within the health department nothing changes, we continue to encourage our patients to get vaccinated, to get that third dose if they need it,” said Tinguely.

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