First case of Omicron detected in Broome County

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BINGHAMTON, NY (WSKG) — The first case of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 has been detected in Broome County.

“With a small number of Omicron cases already identified in New York state, it was only a matter of time before we got our first case right here in Broome County,” said County Executive Jason Garnar.

Interim Health Director Mary McFadden said the resident with the case had recently traveled internationally. The Broome County Health Department sent the sample to the state for sequencing, and it came back positive for the variant.

A total of 12 cases have been detected in New York state so far. Nineteen U.S. states have reported cases of Omicron.

The Broome County Health Department’s rapid testing site. (Phoebe Taylor-Vuolo/WSKG)

McFadden said the county health department will treat the case like any other COVID-19 case, and continue to send samples for sequencing. She said epidemiologists are still working to understand Omicron.

“We’re still learning about this variant, and that’s why we’re doing the sequencing,” McFadden said. “CDC has said that it is very transmissible, that’s what they’re finding out, and they’re really trying to learn about the severity of it.”

Garnar said between the high spread of COVID-19 and increasingly limited hospital capacity, it’s more important than ever for residents to wear masks and get vaccinated.

“There’s something really wrong when we’re at risk of not being able to provide healthcare because we’re all out of room,” Garnar said.

Broome County is not currently issuing a mask mandate, Garnar said, but he added that nothing is off the table at this point.