First case of COVID-19 omicron variant identified in San Diego County

Posted at 2:12 PM, Dec 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-10 09:01:20-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — The first case of the omicron variant was identified in San Diego County, the County Health and Human Services Agency announced Thursday.

According to the county, the case was identified in a San Diego resident who recently traveled abroad.

The county said the patient had been vaccinated and received a booster. The individual was not hospitalized and is currently in isolation.

"The critical point is that this person was not hospitalized,” Dr. Seema Shah, the Medical Director of Epidemiology & Immunization Services for the County, said.

“We expected that the omicron variant would make its way to San Diego, and it has,” said Wilma J. Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “We are continuing to monitor for the Omicron variant and will report any other cases to the public when they are identified.”

The county didn’t release where the individual traveled from or how old they are.

The county recommended the following to protect against variants:

  • Get vaccinated and get a booster if you qualify. The vaccine is available at health care providers, retail pharmacies and community clinics. You can also make an appointment or find a site near you by calling (833) 422-4255 or visiting the My Turn website.
  • Wear a mask, especially in public indoor settings, regardless of vaccination status.
  • Get tested if you have any symptoms, whether you’ve been vaccinated or not. You can make a free test appointment or find a walk-in test clinic at
  • Wash your hands frequently and stay home if you’re sick and distance yourself from others.

Shah told ABC 10News that the test sequencing was done in less than 48 hours which typically can be a two-to-three-week process.

"Given obviously there's an international emphasis on this particular variant, there are a lot of unknowns, we wanted to prioritize those individuals that traveled. We're looking at cases where there's been outbreaks,” Shah said.

"We had a pretty rapid turnaround time from when we knew of the positive to when the test was sequenced."

As the county looks deeper into this case, the advice from the medical community is more of the same.

"You're much better off getting a runny nose than ending up in the hospital. And the key to doing that is to get vaccinated,” Dr. Mark Sawyer, Pediatric Infectious Disease Specialist at Rady's Children's Hospital & UCSD, said.

A belief is held by some that omicron could be here to stay.

"If delta is any predictor, it may take over as the predominant strain. It took delta two to three months to take over in San Diego when it first showed up,” Sawyer said.

There's also hope that we can identify these omicron variants as San Diego waits to see its impact here.

"We're hoping that this is what the future of epidemiology looks like, where we get this kind of rapid results back and where able to connect the dots very quickly,” Shah said.