/ Modified dec 16, 2021 3:52 p.m.

First case of Omicron variant confirmed in Pima County

The Pima County Health Department said the person tested positive for COVID-19 in Tucson in early December.

coronavirus 2 hero This transmission electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2—also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus that causes COVID-19—isolated from a patient in the U.S.

Health authorities announced the first case of COVID-19 involving the Omicron variant in Pima County on Thursday.

The Pima County Health Department said the person tested positive for COVID-19 in Tucson in early December.

"Genetic sequencing of the sample indicated the Omicron variant, which was verified in the past 24 hours by the Arizona Department of Health Services," the department said in a press release.

The department said the case remained under investigation.

"We knew it was a matter of when, and not if, Omicron would be in Pima County," Pima County Health Department Director Dr. Theresa Cullen said in a press release. "The best courses of action remain the same. Getting the vaccine is highly effective in preventing serious illness and death, including against the variants. If you have been vaccinated, get boosted to stay protected. And follow the other layered mitigation strategies – wear a mask in public indoor spaces, wash your hands frequently and physically distance."

Yavapai County and the state Department of Health Services confirmed the first case with the Omicron variant in Arizona on December 8.

The state reported 2,911 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday and 20 new deaths.

A total of 1,326,908 cases and 23,344 deaths have been reported in Arizona since the pandemic began.

Credit: Nick O'Gara/AZPM. Sources: The New York Times, based on reports from state and local health agencies, Census Bureau. Case reports do not correspond to day of test.

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