Omicron detected in Louisville; variant could become dominant strain within weeks

Fischer said there is still time to act and that the city is following the same preparations as with previous COVID variants.
Published: Dec. 21, 2021 at 6:07 PM EST
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Louisville mayor Greg Fischer said at this time, 1,800 people in the city of Louisville has died due to COVID.

Fischer said he’s grateful that it isn’t more, but frustrated because at the same time, some of those lives could have been saved.

Now, the omicron variant has been detected in wastewater samples. While it’s deadliness is still being studied, officials said it’s infection rate is rapid.

Fischer said there is still time to act and that the city is following the same preparations as with previous COVID variants.

Focuses continue on vaccinations and booster shots, followed by masks, good ventilation and hygiene.

“The new omicron variant is presenting greater challenges in terms of its infectiousness, and we’re seeing this all over the world,” Fischer said. “It’s been slow to get to Louisville, but it’s replicability is very, very fast. So soon in the next couple of weeks, it will be the dominant strain here in our city.”

Vaccination is still the best protection, officials state. There have been 1.6 million doses of the COVID vaccine given out in Jefferson County, and anyone over 16 can get the booster shot.

Currently, there are nearly 132,000 total confirmed cases of COVID in Jefferson County. More than 41,000 have recovered.

Louisville Metro has also newly reported 24 additional deaths.

WAVE 3 News reached out to the manager of Jefferson County Public Schools Health Services, Eva Stone, who said the district is focused on prevention.

JCPS started expanding testing Tuesday.

“Before visiting with loved ones, just to know your status, that’s going to be the new normal,” Stone said. “Just to test to know you’re not going to be infectious to others. We are very committed to doing all we can to keep students in and COVID out. It’s just so significant that we look on the impact not just on children’s education but on their social and emotional needs and for out adults as well and families need to work and so all these things that work together to help keep school open are significant.”

Louisville Metro Health Director Dr. Sarah Moyer said Louisville is on course for a pattern of cases peaking first, then hospitalizations, then ICU admissions peak a few weeks afterwards.

She said right now the jury is still out on how severe omicron is.

Health officials in Louisville said the omicron patient within the city is showing a mild fever and cough, but never required oxygen or hospital admission. She has also had minor respiratory symptoms.

Officials did share that that monoclonal antibodies are not as effective against omicron, but since hospitals don’t immediately know which variant a patient has, they may still receive a monoclonal antibody treatment.

When WAVE 3 News asked the mayor about the possibility of another lockdown, Fischer said right now there are too many variables and the first step is getting through the holidays.

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