A King County woman who was the first in the county to be infected with the omicron variant of the coronavirus is experiencing a “mild illness,” the public health department said Wednesday.
The patient, a woman in her 20s who tested positive for the virus on Nov. 29, has not required hospitalization, Public Health — Seattle & King County said. She also hasn’t traveled recently, suggesting the omicron variant has been spreading locally, though there’s “no evidence of widespread exposure,” the update said.
The health department has said the King County woman was fully vaccinated and received a booster shot recently, likely after exposure.
Two other cases of omicron have been identified in the state as of Wednesday — one in a Pierce County man in his 20s and one in a Thurston County man in his 30s. It’s unclear if either had been vaccinated and further details about the severity of their illness haven’t been released.
A spokesperson for Tacoma-Pierce County Public Health Department said Wednesday that updates aren’t available for the Pierce County patient.
Thurston County’s public health department has said it’s not planning to release any more details about their patient, citing patient privacy laws.
“We are not able to release the vaccination status, hospitalization status, or medical disposition of this individual – it is all protected under HIPAA,” Meredith Mathis, a spokesperson for Thurston County Public Health and Social Services, said in an email. “As a side note, a COVID-19 positive individual may choose whether or not to give us that information (including travel history, close contacts etc.) when we conduct contract tracing and disease investigation.”
State health leaders have acknowledged that these three cases are likely not the only omicron infections in Washington, and are expecting more confirmed cases in the coming weeks as the variant spreads throughout several other states and countries.
Summarizing the little that’s known so far about omicron, King County’s public health officer Jeff Duchin said over the weekend that preliminary data suggests this variant may spread even more readily than the delta variant and is more likely to re-infect people who’ve had COVID.
On the other hand, he said, preliminary evidence also suggests there may be fewer severe cases.