GARFIELD COUNTY, Colo. (KREX) – On December 15, Garfield County Public Health (GCPH) was notified that a vaccinated individual tested positive for the omicron variant of COVID-19.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) has been tracking the spread of the variant throughout the state. There have been four confirmed cases of omicron since it was first detected along the Front Range on December 2. Unlike the previous three confirmed cases, the Garfield County case had no recent travel history. Omicron has also been detected in Boulder wastewater, leading officials to believe that community transmission is occurring.

“We anticipated that we would see omicron cases in our county,” said Sara Brainard, Garfield County Public Health nurse manager. “We are still learning about this variant. It is more contagious than delta, with similar symptoms to other variants of the virus. Those who have been vaccinated seem to be experiencing less severe symptoms.”

In a statement, GCPH encouraged residents to get vaccinated by saying, “Experts from around the world conclude that vaccines are the safest, most effective way to slow the spread of COVID-19 and its variants, as well as help avoid the worst outcomes (severe illness, hospitalization, and death) among those who do become infected.”

“Our primary concern is that a more contagious virus will make more people ill and strain our hospital systems more quickly,” added Brainard. “Omicron, combined with holiday gatherings, means that this is the time to get boosted. And, if you have not yet, protect yourself and your children by getting vaccinated.”

GCPH, in collaboration with CDPHE, continues to monitor for additional cases of the variant.