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Omicron COVID-19 variant detected in Kentucky

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear announced Friday afternoon that the state has identified its first case of the new COVID-19 omicron variant, less than a month after its first appearance overseas. 

The news is not a surprise to state leaders – it comes as more than three-fourth of U.S. states have confirmed omicron cases in recent weeks. 

“As expected, Kentucky has confirmed its first case of the omicron variant.” the governor tweeted just after 6 p.m. He did not say where it was found, but added that he and Dr. Steven Stack with the Kentucky Department for Public Health will give an update Saturday at 1 p.m. 

First detected in South Africa in late November, scientists have spent several weeks testing the new variant to determine its transmissibility, severity and any resistance to vaccines. 

Kentucky has seen an uptick of COVID-19 cases over the past two months, but until Friday, sequencing has shown that to be attributed to the highly transmissible delta variant, which started wreaking havoc in mid 2021. 

The Kentucky Department for Public Health reported 2,582 new daily cases Friday and 35 new deaths. 


Aprile Rickert is LPM's Southern Indiana reporter. Email Aprile at arickert@lpm.org.

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