Dec 1, 2021 - COVID

DMV officials prepare for COVID-19 Omicron variant

An illustration of a COVID-19 pendulum.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

DMV officials are already responding to the new COVID-19 Omicron variant.

What's happening: Though the variant hasn't yet been identified in the U.S., health officials are already implementing safety measures to prevent its spread.

Yes, but: Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, says it's just a matter of time before it's found here.

  • On Tuesday, Fauci and former President Obama visited Kimball Elementary in D.C. to encourage people to get vaccinated.

DC Health officials tell Axios that it continues to require all private labs and hospitals to sequence at least 10% of positive SARS-CoV-2 specimens. 

The Prince George's county council voted on Monday to extend the mask mandate through early 2022. 

Arlington County officials tell Axios that COVID-19 vaccines are still the best way to protect against all variants. Virginia health officials encourage mask-wearing in areas with substantial to high COVID transmission.

The big picture: CDC director Rochelle Walensky told reporters during a briefing on Tuesday the U.S. has a "robust" surveillance system.

  • She pointed to U.S. international travel policies that require pre-departure testing both for the unvaccinated and vaccinated. "We do have the mechanisms in place we need to find it should and when it occurs," she said.
  • The CDC also announced it planned to expand surveillance at four U.S. airports, CNN reported.

Be smart: President Biden said the Omicron variant is "a cause for concern, not a cause for panic."

Our thought bubble: We got this — let's wash hands, wear masks, and get a vaccine or booster.

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