It took just 22 days for the Omicron variant of the coronavirus to spread to every state in the country. On Wednesday (December 22), South Dakota became the 50th state to report a case of the latest variant. There have also been confirmed cases in Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.
The first case of the Omicron variant was detected in California on December 1, while the first death from the mutated strain was reported in Texas on December 20.
Earlier in the week, the CDC announced that Omicron was the dominant strain in the country, accounting for 73% of all new cases of COVID-19. While the Omicron variant is more contagious than previous mutations, it appears to cause milder infections. A recent study out of South Africa, where the variant was first identified, found that those infected with the Omicron variant were 80% less likely to be hospitalized than those infected with other strains of COVID-19.
Health officials have continued to say that the best protection against the new variant is to get fully vaccinated and get a booster shot.
“The best way to protect yourself from severe disease with this variant is to get vaccinated,” said South Dakota State Epidemiologist Joshua Clayton. “We urge South Dakotans to monitor for symptoms and get tested as soon as they experience symptoms.”