LEONARDTOWN, MD (December 20, 2021) – The St. Mary’s County Health Department (SMCHD) has been notified of the first laboratory-identified Omicron variant case of the COVID-19 virus in St. Mary’s County. Early analysis of the Omicron variant suggests it is highly contagious compared to prior COVID-19 virus strains. 

Due to a state of Maryland IT/network issue, local data on case rates and variant virus strains are currently limited. However, a large increase in demand for testing locally, findings from public health investigation/contact tracing, and wastewater surveillance data may indicate a rise in community spread of COVID-19 and a growing presence of the Omicron variant in St. Mary’s County.

“With the ongoing impact of Delta, the rapid rise of an even more contagious Omicron, and the indoor gatherings of the holiday season, we are very concerned about our current developing COVID-19 surge,” said Dr. Meena Brewster, St. Mary’s County Health Officer. “Hospitals across the state are seeing volumes increase significantly. It is so important for our community members to get vaccinated, get boosted, wear more effective masks indoors when with non-household members, and avoid large indoor gatherings.”

SMCHD urges all community members age 5 and older to get full vaccination for COVID-19 as well as a booster dose for everyone age 16 years and older. For more information or to schedule a COVID-19 vaccine appointment, please visit smchd.org/covid-19-vaccine or call (301) 475-4330. 

All community members, even those who are vaccinated, should please continue to take actions to protect themselves and prevent the spread of COVID-19, including:

  • Wearing a well fitted mask indoors among people who do not live with you
    • More effective options include: medical grade ASTM-rated surgical mask, KN95 mask, N95 mask, or double-masking with a surgical mask and cloth face covering
  • Avoiding large crowds and public indoor spaces that may be poorly ventilated
  • Washing your hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer prior to touching your eyes, nose, or mouth
  • Avoiding close contact with people who are sick, or others if you are sick
  • Getting a COVID-19 test if you have a COVID-19 symptom, have been in close contact with a positive case, have traveled, or were involved with a higher-risk activity

Anyone experiencing COVID-19-like symptoms, including fever or chills, cough, 
shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, 
new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, or diarrhea should be tested for COVID-19. Call your healthcare provider or learn more about SMCHD testing options at smchd.org/covid-19-testingsmchd.org/covid-19-testing.


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