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How Virginia is preparing for COVID-19 omicron variant

The variant is bringing a new sense of urgency for people to get vaccinated. It’s a message Gov. Northam is hoping Virginians take seriously.

VIRGINIA, USA — Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam and state health officials are echoing President Joe Biden's statement of making sure people stay protected against the new COVID-19 omicron variant.

The variant is bringing a new sense of urgency for people to get vaccinated. It’s a message Northam is hoping Virginians take seriously.

“The way viruses continue to survive is they mutate and each mutation can be more contagious and it can have more symptoms that go along with it," said Northam. 

Virginia Department of Health officials said COVID-19 variant research is ongoing. According to a news release, health officials are using a genetic sequencing program to find out if different variants are in the state, adding the omicron variant may soon be detected in the U.S. and Virginia.

However, Northam's message to everyone is to stay calm.

“We shouldn’t panic, but we should pay attention," said Northam. 

Virginia State Health Commissioner Dr. Norman Oliver is urging everyone to follow all the COVID-19 safety measures to reduce infections.

For now, Northam is not adding any restrictions or making changes, until more is known about this new variant.

"All options are on the table. but right now, we’re not doing anything differently, we’re encouraging people to get vaccinated," said Northam. 

Northam said health officials are actively testing for the omicron variant. No cases have been reported in Virginia or the United States at this time.

VDH officials explained the level of community transmission in the state remains high and the best way to stay protected is to get the vaccine.