Officials in multiple jurisdictions throughout Tennessee have detected cases of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.
Shelby County reported the first case of the new variant. New cases were discovered on Thursday by both the Metro Nashville Public Health Department and the Hamilton County Health Department.
According to a release from Metro officials, the case was detected in an individual who recently traveled to South Africa—the location where the Omicron variant first became widespread. Furthermore, the person had received both rounds of the coronavirus vaccine series and a booster shot. Experiencing mild symptoms, the infected individual did not require hospitalization.
In order to prevent spread of the variant, the department recommended the return to indoor masking where positive cases of COVID-19 are in high numbers.
The day Nashville officials discovered the variant in the area was the anniversary of the first vaccine that was administered in the fight against the virus.
While celebrating the medical accomplishment, Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey urged residents of the state to get vaccinated.
“From the first days when vaccine was in high demand with limited supply, to today where it is widely available to everyone, public health and health care frontline workers have been the steady force,” said Piercey. “The COVID-19 vaccine is the best defense we have against the continued spread of the virus. As we continue to see new variants, we must understand we now live in a world where COVID-19 is present. The vaccine drastically reduces serious outcomes and protects you and those in your closest circles.”
After peaking in late summer, cases in Tennessee continued to decline until last month. The rise of the variant has caused some to worry about the return of economic shutdowns that crippled the country’s economy last year.
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