Health experts encourage caution with holiday travel to reduce the spread of omicron in Idaho

Virus Outbreak US
Posted at 4:22 PM, Dec 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-23 18:22:12-05

On Wednesday, state health leaders announced another case of the new COVID-19 variant omicron had been identified in Idaho, and health experts say it might only be the tip of the iceberg.

The second confirmed case of omicron in Ada County was identified in a male in his 40s who had traveled prior to infection. Central District Health says he reported moderate flu-like symptoms and was in the Treasure Valley while infectious, which concerns health experts about the spread of the virus in our area.

“We have 2 confirmed cases of omicron and several more are suspected in our area and Idaho. We know that it is only the tip of the iceberg, and we expect many more will be confirmed in the coming days. It is important to know that omicron is here and to act as such, not be stuck on the numbers. It is rapidly spreading across other areas and we know many people travel at this time of year,” Central District Health Communicable Disease Control Program Manager Lindsay Haskell said.

Being more infectious, there's concern omicron could infect more people all at once — potentially leading to another strain on the hospitals.

“We are seeing it change with these mutations and becoming more transmissible. Data so far shows omicron may not be as severe but it’s still very early on. We are seeing substantial data to show that it is more infectious, so more people are becoming infected,” Haskell said.

The Department of Health and Welfare and CDH are reminding the community that if you are traveling for the holiday weekend, make sure you are taking the proper safety precautions.

“Stay home if sick. We are hearing in our investigations that often people are still traveling while ill. Symptoms may be mild or they are trying to get home but staying home when sick or staying put in isolation is really important,” Haskell said.

Other tips you can follow include:

  • Wearing a mask
  • Getting an initial vaccine dose or booster shot
  • Avoid crowded indoor spaces
  • Get tested for COVID-19
  • Stay home when sick