EL PASO COUNTY — The first case of the Omicron COVID-19 variant in El Paso County was identified on Tuesday.
According to El Paso County Public Health they found the variant in a man in his 40's. EPCPH says that the man was vaccinated and had received his booster and only experienced mild symptoms. They went on to say that he also had a history of domestic travel by plane.
One local Physician, Doctor Richard Vu, says it is likely there are many other uncomfirmed cases of Omicron in the county.
"It is unquestionable that it has been here, we just hadn't found it and now we've found it and more than likely there's more than one, more than just a few."
According the Colorado Department of Health and Environment, most people who test positive for COVID-19 will not be told which variant they have. The say epidemiologists will occasionally reach out to individuals about a variant for a case investigation.
The El Paso County Health Department says confirming the first case of Omicron in the county "underscores the importance of prevention measures, particularly going into the holiday season. This includes vaccination and boosters, wearing masks in public indoor settings, staying home when sick, keeping gatherings small, and washing hands frequently".
Vu says his biggest concern is the unknown of the Omicron variant and its severity right now.
"We know that the omicron variant is more transmissible than the Delta variant, but we don't know for sure if the Omicron causes more severe disease or less severe illnesses."
As of Monday, the Omicron variant is the dominant type of COVID-19 in the U.S., making up an estimated 73 percent of new infections last week according to the CDC.
The first case of Omicron was detected in Colorado back in early December.
This past week El Paso County reported a COVID-19 positivity rate of 8.1 percent. In total, around 68 percent of the eligible population in El Paso County has received at least one dose of the vaccine.