DENVER (KDVR) — The COVID-19 omicron variant has been discovered in Colorado, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) announced Thursday afternoon.
During a news conference on Tuesday, CDPHE said it was a matter of when, not if, the variant would be discovered in Colorado. Colorado is the third state in the U.S. to have a confirmed omicron variant.
The variant was discovered in a woman from Arapahoe County who had recently traveled to multiple countries in southern Africa for tourism. CDPHE says the woman was fully vaccinated but had not yet received her booster.
The woman was not symptomatic when she returned home to Colorado and arrived at Denver International Airport. She developed symptoms about a day later and tested positive that day.
“This was expected news that any variant that is so prevalent in the world as the omicron variant is, we knew it wasn’t a matter of if, it was a matter of when it was identified in Colorado,” Polis said in a press conference.
Health officials recommend people who travel internationally get a molecular or PCR test three to five days after their return.
The woman received a positive test result after her travel; It was then identified as the omicron variant through routine investigation by the Tri-County Health Department and CDPHE.
The woman is experiencing minor symptoms and recovering at home. CDPHE has issued an isolation order for her and the people she has been in close contact with until they receive negative tests.
On Wednesday, a person in California who had been vaccinated against COVID-19 and traveled to South Africa became the first in the U.S. to have an identified case of the omicron variant. A person in Minnesota was discovered to have the variant on Thursday, but that person had not recently traveled outside the country.
“We knew that it was just a matter of time before the first case of omicron would be detected in the United States,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said after the discovery of the case in California.
This variant was first discovered in South Africa, and about a week ago, the Biden administration issued a travel ban for non-U.S. residents from there and several surrounding countries.
So far, Colorado state leaders have not seen a spread:
“We do the wastewater analysis, and it has not yet shown up in our wastewater. We also screen roughly 15 percent of all the tests done in Colorado for COVID are also sequenced for Omicron and other variants so, if it was prevalent, we would know, it doesn’t mean it’s non-existent but this is the first confirmed case and it is a returning traveler,” Polis said.