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Nearly three weeks after omicron variant detected in the U.S., Oklahoma reports its first case

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The omicron variant now accounts for the majority of new coronavirus cases in the U.S., and it had been detected in 47 other states before Oklahoma health officials issued a statement on Tuesday afternoon.

The statement didn’t disclose where in the state the variant was detected.

A group of medical professionals called the Healthier Oklahoma Coalition held a weekly briefing a few hours before. Members said it was nearly impossible to believe the variant hadn’t made its way to the state yet, considering its rampant presence across the country and in the states surrounding Oklahoma.

Oklahoma State Department of Health officials said the agency’s public health lab has been testing all results it receives. However, the lab — which has been embroiled in controversy for years and just underwent a federal investigation — receives a small fraction of all tests conducted, and can’t test rapid or at-home results.

Oklahoma's vaccination rate is still far behind most states. Just 53 percent of Oklahoma's population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, placing the state in the bottom 13 states for vaccine rollout.

“Getting your COVID-19 shot is the best way to protect yourself and others, even from new variants like this one. Wearing a mask, especially in crowded indoor places, can also help protect you from infection," said Keith Reed, interim Commissioner of Health, in a statement. "And if you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, tests can tell you if you are currently infected and are available at pharmacies across the state. Tests can also provide reassurance that your holiday gatherings are safe.”

KOSU has compiled a list of COVID testing locations across the state. Find the full list here.

Vaccines, as well as booster shots, are widely available through many doctors and pharmacies, or you can schedule an appointment online at vaccines.gov.

Catherine Sweeney reports for StateImpact Oklahoma, focusing on health.
Ryan LaCroix is the Director of Content and Audience Development for KOSU.
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