ATLANTA — Georgia on Sunday reported its first in-state case of the Omicron COVID variant, with the Department of Public Health saying it was confirmed in a person who had recently traveled from South Africa.
This comes after the state said on Friday that the first Georgia resident had tested positive for Omicron, though that resident had since traveled to New Jersey.
DPH said the person who had tested positive for Omicron and was in Georgia was "isolating at home and contact tracing is underway to identify close contacts at risk of infection."
The person was fully vaccinated and boosted, and was said to have mild symptoms.
The state is continuing to urge vaccinations as a means of slowing the spread of the new variant.
Dr. Kathleen Toomey, the Georgia Department of Public Health commissioner, said on Friday that less than 20% of the state's vaccinated population has received a booster so far, even though they've been widely available for months.
And that 20% comes from a statewide vaccination rate that is already among the lowest in the nation, at 51%.
That suggests as little as 10% of the state has the protection of a full vaccine dose plus booster shot.
“Vaccination and boosters are key to preventing further transmission of COVID-19 and help prevent new variants like Omicron from emerging,” Dr. Toomey said. “Only 51% of Georgians are fully vaccinated and of those individuals less than 20% have received booster doses.”
The state said the resident who tested positive and is now in New Jersey was fully vaccinated. A release did not specify whether the new in-state positive case was with a vaccinated individual.
"Scientists continue to study the Omicron variant to determine how quickly and easily it spreads, whether it causes more severe illness and how well the current COVID vaccines protect against it." the state's release said.
Much remains uncertain about how omicron compares to previous variants, such as delta, beyond the potential for being more transmissible. It's unclear if it causes more severe disease than previous iterations of COVID.
"Preliminary data suggests that there are increasing rates of hospitalization in South Africa, but this may be due to increasing overall numbers of people becoming infected, rather than a result of specific infection with Omicron. There is currently no information to suggest that symptoms associated with Omicron are different from those from other variants," the World Health Organization says.
Monday, new air travel restrictions begin, requiring all passengers flying into the U.S., including U.S. citizens, to prove, before they can board, that they tested negative for COVID-19 the previous day.