1st omicron case in US identified in California

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Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh/Via Fox News)

The first case of the omicron variant in the U.S. has been identified in California, the California and San Francisco Departments of Public Health said.

The CDC said the person traveled from South Africa on Nov. 22.

The individual tested positive on Nov. 29, Dr. Anthony Fauci said at a briefing Wednesday.

The individual, who was fully vaccinated, had mild symptoms that are improving, the CDC said.

“All close contacts have been contacted and have tested negative,” the CDC said.

“We knew that it was just a matter of time before the first case of omicron would be detected in the United States,” Fauci said.

Fauci cautioned not to read into the mild symptoms of this single case and said the person was fully vaccinated but not boosted.

As the COVID-19 pandemic has swept the globe, more than 5.2 million people have died from the disease worldwide, including over 780,000 Americans, according to real-time data compiled by Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering.

Just 59.4% of the population in the United States is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom said the first detected case of the omicron variant in the U.S. being found in California “is not surprising” due to the state’s “aggressive testing protocols” and genomic sequencing.

During a previously scheduled press briefing Wednesday afternoon, he shared a timeline on the San Francisco resident who tested positive for the case.

The person left South Africa on Nov. 21 and landed in the U.S. on Nov. 22, developed symptoms a few days later around Nov. 25 and got tested on Nov. 28, he said. The test came back positive on Nov. 29, he said.

On Nov. 30, initial lab testing determined the sample could be omicron, and a full sequencing confirmed it was early Wednesday morning, San Francisco health officials said.

Newsom encouraged Californians to get vaccinated and receive a booster shot as the winter approaches.

The individual who tested positive for the first case of the omicron variant detected in the U.S. had received a full dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine but was not yet eligible for a booster dose, according to San Francisco Department of Public Health Director Dr. Grant Colfax.

The person developed symptoms upon returning from South Africa, got tested in San Francisco, and has since recovered, Colfax told reporters during a briefing Wednesday.

“They did the right thing and got tested and reported their travel history,” he said.

Colfax said the case is “not a cause for us to panic,” and that San Francisco “is prepared” for this.

The health department has no plans at this time to change its current COVID-19 health orders, Colfax said.

(By Morgan Winsor, Emily Shapiro, and Meredith Deliso / ABC News)

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