For Immediate Release: December 22, 2021
First COVID-19 Omicron
Variant Case Detected in South Dakota
PIERRE, S.D. – The South Dakota Department of Health (SD-DOH) confirms that the B.1.1.529 variant (‘Omicron’ variant) of COVID-19 has been detected in South Dakota. The findings were verified by the Public Health Laboratory in Pierre. While only one case of the variant has been identified in Minnehaha County among a male in his 20’s, it is safe to assume other cases across the state may exist given the variant’s increased transmission.
“The best way to protect yourself from severe disease with this variant is to get vaccinated,” said Joshua Clayton, State Epidemiologist. “We urge South Dakotans to monitor for symptoms and get tested as soon as they experience symptoms.”
Concerns of the ‘Omicron’ variant include a greater rate of transmission from person to person, reduced effectiveness of existing treatments, and reduced protection of the COVID-19 vaccine. However, currently available vaccines have so far proven effective to protect people against hospitalization and death from COVID-19.
According to the CDC, symptoms associated with COVID-19 include:
- Fever or Chills;
- Shortness of breath of difficulty breathing;
- Muscle or body aches / Headaches; and
- New loss of taste or smell
The ‘Omicron’ variant was first detected in South Africa in November and was first detected in the United States on December 1. For additional information on all the variants from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, click here.
The SD-DOH also wants to remind residents of risk-mitigation precautions they can take to protect themselves from COVID-19 like:
- Practicing good hygiene (handwashing, cleaning surfaces, etc.);
- Physical distancing;
- Staying home when sick;
- Wearing a mask in crowded/confined spaces (ie. Airports); and
- Choosing to get a COVID-19 vaccine / regular testing.
For the latest news and COVID-19 available resources in South Dakota, visit DOH.SD.GOV.