Omicron variant detected in STL, will contribute to rising cases

The+Affton+School+District+held+a+vaccination+event+for+its+teachers+and+other+staff+members+the+first+day+teachers+were+eligible+for+the+COVID-19+vaccine+Monday%2C+March+15.+Other+school+districts+like+Mehlville+and+Lindbergh+have+also+hosted+events+to+vaccinate+their+staff.+

The Affton School District held a vaccination event for its teachers and other staff members the first day teachers were eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine Monday, March 15. Other school districts like Mehlville and Lindbergh have also hosted events to vaccinate their staff.

By Lucas Irizarry, Staff Reporter

County Executive Sam Page announced Monday that the new Omicron variant of COVID was detected in St. Louis last week.

The state reported Dec. 3 that the first suspected case of the Omicron variant had been detected in a St. Louis city resident who had recently traveled within the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control later confirmed that this was a case of the Omicron variant, the first in Missouri.

Page said the new variant has more mutations than Delta, but it is unknown if it is more contagious and how it will react to the vaccine. He said he expects the vaccine will still be effective against it.

“We don’t know the vaccine has been effective with other variants and that is the expectation with this variant as well,” Page said.

The Omicron variant has been seen in 15 states so far, and that number is expected to rise as people travel for the holidays. Page said county health expert’s main concern is how Omicron will impact the recent uptick in cases. As of today, St. Louis is seeing 255 new cases per day, a nearly 10 percent increase from last week. The positivity rate sits at 8.4 percent.

Vaccination rates in the county are continuing to slowly increase — 56. 2 percent of adults are fully vaccinated and 25 percent of children have received one shot.

On Saturday, over 550 Mehlville School District students received the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and ver 200 adults received their booster shots at the district’s vaccine clinic.

‘That’s not bad for the first month of eligibility, but there’s still too many young people vulnerable to the disease,” Page said.

He said he expects the county to continue its mask mandate, but more extreme measures aren’t needed at the current new vaccination rates.