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South Central Public Health discusses concerns with omicron variant

Posted at 6:04 PM, Dec 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-13 20:44:26-05

TWIN FALLS — Idaho now has its first official confirmed case of the omicron variant in Ada County.

Despite the distance from the Magic Valley, officials from the South Central Public Health District are growing concerned, especially with the holiday season upon us.

Research about the new variant and how it works is still ongoing. However, officials know, like the Delta variant, it is highly transmissible and could pose numerous issues if it began to start rapidly spreading.

“Issues with schools having to close down because too many staff members are sick and kids are out," said Brianna Bodily, spokesperson for the South Central Public Health District. "Issues with our hospitals being overcrowded and various functions being shut down or quality of care being impacted.”

Health officials expect that there are more people unknowingly carrying the variant throughout the state. With roughly only two weeks until Christmas, officials want people to be mindful when attending holiday gatherings.

They encourage people to continue practicing preventive measures such as mask-wearing, social distancing, remaining home when sick, hand washing and getting vaccinated.

Officials also want people to think about others that may be attending a party.

“Think about who you are coming into contact with," said Bodily. "Think about whether or not you can cut out some of those holiday parties or some of those holiday celebrations and change your traditions just slightly to help prevent as much risk as possible.”

In some countries, the Omicron variant is becoming the dominant strain and having severe impacts on day to day life. Health officials in Idaho say, at this point in time, it's too early to tell what type of impact the new variant will have.

“In Idaho, we do have the advantage of being quite a bit more rural than other areas," said Bodily. "So, sometimes, what we see in other areas doesn’t hit us the same way. We’re hopeful that that will benefit us with this particular variant as well, but it isn’t clear yet.”