Omicron Variant of COVID-19 Virus Found in Long Beach
On December 6, 2021, the Long Beach Health Department received confirmation of its first case of COVID-19 with mutations consistent with the new Omicron variant (B.1.1.529). The individual, who was fully vaccinated and is asymptomatic, returned to Long Beach on Nov. 29, 2021, after international travel (not to the southern African region).
As of now, the impact of Omicron is not fully known, but everyone is urged to reduce COVID-19 transmission by getting vaccinated or boosted, wearing masks indoors and at large outdoor events, and by getting tested when feeling sick or if exposed to COVID-19.
This variant may be more contagious, but it is believed that current vaccines should provide some protection against the Omicron variant.
The Health Department urges everyone to become vaccinated and get their boosters if eligible. The more people who are vaccinated, the lower the chance that any variant, including Omicron, can get a foothold in our community. The Delta variant, which is highly contagious and for which the vaccine is effective, remains the dominant strain of COVID-19 in Long Beach.
Vaccines are safe and effective in preventing COVID-19 cases, as well as preventing hospitalization, serious illness or death among breakthrough cases of the virus. In 2021 to date, 96.4% of COVID-19-related deaths in Long Beach have occurred among unvaccinated people.
The City offers vaccine clinics six days a week: the schedule can be found at longbeach.gov/vaxlb. No appointment is necessary at City-run vaccine clinics. People also may contact their healthcare provider or area pharmacies or visit myturn.ca.gov to make a vaccine appointment. Vaccines are available to everyone 5 years old and older, regardless of immigration status, and are always free of charge.
Many symptoms of COVID-19 resemble those of a cold, flu and allergies. Anyone experiencing congestion or a runny nose, the sniffles, sore throat, fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, nausea or vomiting, or diarrhea should be tested for COVID-19. Free testing is available at City-run sites; people also may contact their healthcare provider or area pharmacies to receive a test.
Media questions may be directed to Jennifer Rice Epstein, Public Affairs Officer, Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services, at Jennifer.RiceEpstein@longbeach.gov or 562.441.3590.