© 2024 Blue Ridge Public Radio
Blue Ridge Mountains banner background
Your source for information and inspiration in Western North Carolina.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

North Carolina’s first omicron variant of COVID-19 identified in Charlotte

A 3D-generated image of the variant of concern known as omicron. The little bumps are spike proteins (see definition below).
Uma Shankar Sharma/Getty Images
A 3D-generated image of the variant of concern known as omicron. The little bumps are spike proteins (see definition below).

North Carolina’s first confirmed positive case of the omicron variant of COVID-19 has been identified in Charlotte.

UNC Charlotte officials said Friday that they identified the variant in a student who traveled out of state during the Thanksgiving break. Mecklenburg County health officials say exposure was limited to only one known contact.

UNC Charlotte Vice Chancellor for Research Dr. Rick Tankersley said the student got tested after Thanksgiving. The student was fully vaccinated and has recovered from mild symptoms, said Tankersley.

Mecklenburg County Health Director Gibbie Harris said in a news conference that she’s not surprised that Charlotte had the first confirmed case of omicron because of the amount of travel in the area. “But I’d also be surprised if there’s not other cases in our state that just have not been discovered at this point,” said Harris.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Friday that the omicron variant has been detected in 22 states in the United States. The CDC has identified 43 cases, with no deaths and only one hospitalization.

Harris says the delta variant remains the main concern this winter even as the omicron variant is spreading across the country. She assumes more cases will show up in North Carolina and the U.S.

Tankersley says the university is scaling up its sequencing operations in anticipation of rising cases.

Copyright 2021 WFAE

Catherine Welch is news director at Rhode Island Public Radio. Before her move to Rhode Island in 2010, Catherine was news director at WHQR in Wilmington, NC. She was also news director at KBIA in Columbia, MO where she was a faculty member at the University Of Missouri School Of Journalism. Catherine has won several regional Edward R. Murrow awards and awards from the Public Radio News Directors Inc., New England AP, North Carolina Press Association, Missouri Press Association, and Missouri Broadcasters Association.