The first two officially detected cases of the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus have been discovered, the Ohio Department of Health announced on Saturday.
"We have known that it would only be a matter of time until a case of Omicron was detected in Ohio," said Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, director of the Ohio Department of Health, in a press release. "The CDC believes that this variant has likely been circulating in the U.S. since November."
The two cases were found in adult men in central Ohio. Both tested positive on Dec. 7 and both have received two shots of the COVID-19 vaccine in the last six months, but neither have not received a booster shot, a press release from ODH said.
Both men have mild symptoms and have not been hospitalized.
ODH is not releasing the exact age of the men or county where they live to protect patient privacy, the release said.
"While the arrival of Omicron in Ohio is noteworthy, we must not lose sight of the face that the Delta variant continues to drive cases and hospitalizations very high," said Vanderhoff in the press release. "As of yesterday, there were 4,422 patients in the hospital with COVID-19, a high that matches what we experienced in January of 2021 during last winter's surge."
Vanderhoff said regardless of the variant found, anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 should still quarantine and anyone with symptoms of the virus should be tested, even if vaccinated.
ODH compiles and updates information each Monday on the proportion of the variants present in Ohio. The dashboard shows that, regularly, the Delta variant makes up at least 99% of cases in recent weeks.
"This variant’s arrival and the continued impact of the Delta variant underscore the importance of our best prevention tool, which is choosing to be vaccinated," said Vanderhoff. "COVID-19 vaccines, coupled with prevention measures, provide the greatest protection from severe illness resulting in hospitalization or death. If you have not yet been vaccinated, or are eligible for a booster dose, now is the time to go and get your shot."