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WEB EXCLUSIVE | A San Francisco resident tested positive on Tuesday for the omicron variant of the coronavirus, marking the first U.S. case of the newly detected mutated virus.
South African scientists first identified the variant in November and since then, over twenty countries across six continents have recorded cases.
“I have become more aware of wearing my mask in public because I understand that with the rapid spreading of the omicron variant it may be unsafe to have my mask off,” senior Shana Ong said. “I’m sure students are cautious but I am worried about school safety and if we can continue to be in person.”
Although the CDC classified omicron as a “variant of concern” and warns it may be more transmissible, Governor Gavin Newsom says he does not plan on instituting future lockdowns, and health officials say that vaccines and similar measures are still effective against the virus.
“We must remain vigilant against this variant, but it is not a cause for panic,” The California and San Francisco Departments of Public Health wrote in a joint statement released Wednesday. “ It is important that we collectively focus on the things we know prevent the spread of COVID-19, and its variants.”
Taking preventative measures like getting vaccinated, wearing masks, staying home when sick and testing when experiencing symptoms can protect communities from coronavirus variants including omicron, according to the CDC.
“I feel pretty protected because I am vaccinated and I know that the people around me take this seriously,” junior Jardin Davis said. “I am now a little worried about the upcoming Costa Rica trip and traveling safely though.”
The U.S. announced bans on foreign travelers from eight countries including South Africa on Nov. 26 and instituted stricter requirements on testing for all international travelers to the US.
“My family still plans on taking our trips in the spring when hopefully the variant will either be less dangerous or there will be other protective measures available,” Ong said. “I am still making sure I practice good hygiene so I can help to stop the spread of this variant.”