By Aldon Thomas Stiles | California Black Media
Three days after Thanksgiving, Governor Gavin Newsom went online to treat the new COVID-19 variant Omicron, a version of the virus with at least 50 mutations, according to the World Health Organization.
Twenty-six of these mutations have never been detected before, scientists say.
“California is monitoring the new variant,” Newsom tweeted. âWe will continue to be guided by data and science. Right now, the best way we know to protect you is to get vaccinated and get your booster. Go today. Do not wait.
The variant was first identified by a South African scientist and has since surfaced in several other countries in southern Africa and Europe and has now been detected in at least 16 states in the United States, including California. .
In California, the Omicron variant was first detected in San Francisco on December 1.
Since then, Alameda County public health officials have confirmed five new cases with mild symptoms. All were people who attended a wedding in Wisconsin where they likely contracted the virus.
Newsom responded to the news with a tweet last Wednesday.
“CA’s large-scale testing and early detection systems have found the Omicron COVID-19 variant in California,” Newsom tweeted on Dec. 1. âWe have to assume that it is in other states as well. There is no reason to panic, but we must remain vigilant. It means getting vaccinated. Be boosted. Wear a mask inside.
Assembly member Akilah Weber (D-San Diego), a board-certified obstetrician / gynecologist, said the state has taken several steps to protect Californians and contain the variant, including “doubling down COVID-19 vaccination and recall efforts to ensure all Californians have access to safe, effective, and free vaccines.
Weber was speaking at a briefing for black media on December 3. She said the California Department of Health is monitoring the presence of the variant throughout California and is partnering with the federal Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to support local public health. departments and health care providers across the state.
âThe state is also preparing to increase COVID-19 testing at California airports for US citizens and legal residents returning from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi, âshe said. “These countries are where higher levels of Omicron have been observed and may change over time.”
Last week, President Joe Biden also pushed for vaccines and recalls in preparation for this new variant on Twitter.
âAs we move forward, we will continue to be guided by what science and my medical team advise. Right now, the best way to boost your protection if you are already vaccinated is to receive a booster, immediately, âBiden tweeted.
In a controversial move, Biden has issued a travel ban in eight African countries where the highest number of variants have been reported.
âWHO has identified a new variant of COVID that is spreading across southern Africa. As a precaution, until we have more information, I’m ordering air travel restrictions from South Africa and seven other countries, âBiden tweeted.
This response from the United States drew some criticism from South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.
“We call on all countries that have imposed travel bans on our country and our sisterly countries in southern Africa to immediately and urgently reverse their decisions,” Ramaphosa said, arguing that the variant may have been detected in these countries, but there is no evidence. that he originated there.
California Black Media’s COVID-19 coverage is supported by the California Health Care Foundation.