CT Gov. Ned Lamont Issues Statement On Omicron Variant

CONNECTICUT — Gov. Ned Lamont on Sunday released the following statement regarding the emergence of the SARS-CoV-2 variant B.1.1.529, also known as the Omicron variant:

"We are monitoring a new COVID variant of concern, which was identified by the World Health Organization on Friday," Lamont said in a statement. "This new variant – named Omicron – was first reported to the WHO by government officials in South Africa. Our team at the Connecticut Department of Public Health, led by Commissioner Manisha Juthani, is following these developments closely. While there have been no cases of the Omicron variant reported here in Connecticut or the United States to date, we still must be vigilant. Given the number of countries where Omicron has already been detected, it may already be present in the U.S.

"Earlier this year we set up a network of labs, coordinated by the Connecticut Department of Public Health, that are conducting genomic sequencing on positive test specimens to provide understanding of the variants circulating in Connecticut. Our advance planning in this area will help us track Omicron, in addition to other variants that could appear in the future.

"The best defense against COVID-19 is a good offense.

"This news of the Omicron variant reminds us about the importance of being vaccinated and getting a booster. We have now entered the winter holiday season and still need to mask while in indoor public places, practice proper hand hygiene, get tested, and stay home if you feel sick. That cold may be more than just a cold. It is particularly important to take extra precautions when visiting with older or immune-compromised friends or family who are at higher risk from COVID.

"There's a reason why Connecticut has garnered national recognition during this pandemic and that's because of our residents. With your help, we will get through this next stage, as well."

Since the pandemic began, Connecticut has reported 418,473 confirmed and probable cases out of 12.3 million total tests. Currently, there are 300 people currently hospitalized in Connecticut due to the coronavirus. A total of 8,865 have died as a result of COVID-19.

According to the vaccine tracker maintained by the Mayo Clinic, about 71.7 percent of Connecticut's total population has received all their COVID-19 vaccine shots as of Thursday morning, up 0.2 percent from last week's tally. Nationwide, just 59.4 percent of the population has completed their vaccine series. Connecticut's vaccination rate is behind only that of Vermont and Maine.'

As of Wednesday, those residents who have received at least one dose of the vaccine against COVID-19 include more than 95 percent of those over the age of 65, 93 percent of those between 55-64, 84 percent of those between 45-54, 86 percent of those between 35-44 (up 1 percent from last week), 79 percent of those between 25-34 (up 1 percent from last week), 72 percent of those between 18-24, 81 percent of those between 16-17, 72 percent of those between 12-15 and 21 percent of those aged 5-11 (up 8 percent from last week).

with reporting by Rich Kirby, Patch staff

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