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In Merced County, Gov. Newsom says he’s confident Omicron variant won’t cause shutdowns

Gov. Newsom Omicron 12-1-21.png
Gov. Newsom speaks at Frank Sparkes Elementary School in Winton, CA.

During a visit to Merced County Wednesday, Gov. Newsom confirmed the first known case of the Omicron Covid variant in the U.S. was detected in San Francisco.

The governor was at an elementary school in the community of Winton to help promote vaccine and booster shots when news of the omicron variant broke.

“This individual, who is a resident of San Francisco, was fully vaccinated, had recently been in South Africa,” he said. He added the individual experienced mild symptoms and has not been hospitalized.

The governor said the infected person returned to the U.S. on Nov. 22 and started developing symptoms a few days later. A Covid-19 test the person took was found to be positive on Nov. 29. It was then sequenced, said the Governor, “and it was determined that this sequence was the variant that has obviously generated a lot of headlines.”

But Newsom warned Californians not to panic with the variant still in the early stages of research. “There's more panic than information about this new variant,” he said.

Instead, he said he was confident it would not cause future shutdowns, given that California maintains its position as one of the top 10 states with the lowest case rates and highest vaccination rates.

“Doubling down on what we're doing is the most important message I think we can communicate so we can avoid any shutdown,” he said.

The governor has been focusing his push for vaccine and booster shots in parts of the central San Joaquin Valley where the rate of vaccinations has been lower. In Merced County, 46% of residents are fully vaccinated.

Soreath Hok is a multimedia journalist with 16 years of experience in radio, television and digital production. At KVPR she covers local government, politics and other local news.