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‘We know it is here’: Positive test for omicron variant confirmed in Mecklenburg County, health officials say

According to county health leaders, the positive test was in a student at UNC Charlotte. The case was identified through the university’s sequencing program.
Local health leaders watch for omicron
Local health leaders watch for omicron
Published: Dec. 10, 2021 at 2:14 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 10, 2021 at 5:33 PM EST
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MECKLENBURG COUNTY, N.C. (WBTVAP) – Mecklenburg County Public Health officials announced Friday the first positive test for the omicron variant of COVID-19 in the county.

According to county health leaders, the positive test was in a student at UNC Charlotte. The case was identified through the university’s sequencing program, which detects different strains.

The student was isolated and has recovered, county health leaders said. Exposure was limited, with only one known contact.

“It is evolving, as you know. It’s still a fairly new variant out there, and we are seeing how it is evolving in the different communities,” said Mecklenburg County Public Health Director Gibbie Harris.

Dr. James Tankersley, at UNC Charlotte, said the student traveled outside of North Carolina during Thanksgiving break and tested positive on Friday.

The student had mild symptoms, but was symptomatic, and was fully vaccinated.

UNC Charlotte leaders say there’s no evidence of spread on campus.

“We’re a big city, it’s bound to happen here,” freshman Allie Salter said. “We just gotta take precautions and be responsible.”

A notice had been sent to students about what they know about the variant and there is no concern of immediate spread.

“We know we are going to see it in our community. We know it is here,” Harris said. “We are watching closely what people are experiencing in other communities and in other countries.”

Mecklenburg County Public Health Director Gibbie Harris and UNCC Vice Chancellor for Research and Economic Development Rick Tankersley spoke.

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County health leaders discussed the impact on the omicron variant in the county.

This is the first documented case in North Carolina.

“With the travel we have in and out of our community, I’m not the least bit surprised that we have the first case that is documented (in Mecklenburg County),” Harris said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if there haven’t been any other cases in the state that haven’t been identified.”

Scientists don’t yet know how big a threat the omicron variant really is. Currently, the extra-contagious delta variant is responsible for most of the COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and other countries.

Atrium Health doctors discuss impact of omicron variant in Mecklenburg County

Pfizer said Wednesday that a booster of its COVID-19 vaccine may offer important protection against the omicron variant even though the initial two doses appear significantly less effective.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, of the 43 omicron cases reported in the U.S. from Dec. 1 through Dec. 8, there was one hospitalization and no deaths.

Health officials say one of the ways to prevent hospitalization or deaths is to get vaccinated.

Health officials say what’s really the concern is the delta variant and those consistently rising cases as we go into the winter and holiday season.

“As holidays are coming, we all need to get vaccinated,” said Mecklenburg County Deputy Public Health Director Raynard Washington. “If you are eligible to get a booster, go ahead and do that. If you are traveling to another city, state or town, you may consider getting tested before you go or be aware of symptoms.”

Although omicron is here, the CDC says there are only 43 cases of the variant in the US.

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