The San Bernardino County Department of Public Health recently unveiled the COVID-19 variant Omicron BA.2 in San Bernardino County and is closely monitoring its spread.
In the last 14 days, 99 percent of COVID-19 positive cases in the listed county were identified as Omicron. Of those cases, about 8.5 percent were of the BA.2 variant, the county said in a March 25 press release.
The new BA.2 variant accounted for about 8 percent of Omicron cases throughout March.
Overall, the county’s Covid-19 positivity rate remains below 4 percent, from the highest level of 31 percent. New cases, deaths and hospitalizations have dropped significantly, but the variant may still be a cause for concern.
Since the pandemic began in early 2020, there have been 565,284 confirmed coronavirus cases and 6,776 deaths in San Bernardino county since March 25th. In Fontana, there were 70,017 cases and 692 deaths.
Dr. Michael Sequeira, the county public health officer, said there are two main ways the department can monitor the appearance and spread of COVID-19 variants.
“The first is listing the virus from the COVID-19 test results,” he said. “The sequence allows us to determine which variant may have caused that person’s infection. “We try to make sure we get positive tests from all over the county to get a good picture of the variants circulating in our community.”
The second method is wastewater monitoring, which is performed weekly by a team of epidemiologists from the Department of Public Health.
“We were one of the first counties to support wastewater testing in the state and we are working to expand these efforts in the coming months,” Sequiera said. “Testing allows us to assess how much virus is circulating, as well as the specific variants that are present in our communities.”
Sequeira recommended that people have complete antigen testing kits on hand if they are exposed to or have symptoms of COVID-19.
“Quick COVID-19 tests at home allow you to wipe your nose and get results in less than 20 minutes,” Sequeira said. “They are a useful and safe way for both the vaccinated and the unvaccinated to switch to new variants. Please take steps to protect yourself and your family by getting the tests ready at home when you may need them. ”
Free over-the-counter antigen test kits are available at the following locations:
• San Bernardino County COVID-19 test sites
• San Bernardino County Libraries
• State-supported COVID-19 test sites
Proof of living, working or attending school in San Bernardino County is required for a complete free trial. Parents are encouraged to bring children to get kits for the whole family.
To learn more about rapid COVID-19 antigen tests in the county, visit sbcovid19.com/rapidtests
The federal government also announced a second round of four free family tests that can be ordered through the U.S. Postal Service in www.covidtests.gov.
For more information about testing or vaccination services for COVID-19, visit sbcovid19.com or call the COVID-19 County Hotline at (909) 387-3911.
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