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Omicron found in Fresno Co. wastewater samples; health officials urge getting tested before holidays

Fresno County

The Fresno County Department of Public Health confirmed its first official case of the Omicron variant Monday, but health officials believe the number of cases is already much higher.

Joe Prado, interim assistant director of the department, says the county has been working with the state to monitor the variant.

“Right around the same time period of the individual testing positive for Omicron, we were already seeing it in the wastewater sample. So what does that mean? That means more than likely, we have more individuals that have Omicron in Fresno County,” Prado says.

Still, vaccinations haven’t increased despite the variant. Prado says in mid-December, the county counted 3,500 vaccine doses per day. That’s compared to 3,400 doses the following week. Prado says booster shots, however, saw a slight uptick: 52% in mid-December, compared to 54% the following week. The best defense, Prado says, is to get tested, especially with indoor holiday gatherings coming up.

“We are concerned about Omicron just because how quickly it can spread, how fast it spreads and it has a shorter incubation period. That just means it's going to run through our community a lot faster,” he says.

You can schedule an appointment for vaccinations, booster shots and free testing at several sites in Fresno County, or pick up rapid test kits at local pharmacies.

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.