Coronavirus - Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, Dr. Sarah Moyer

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, Dr. Sarah Moyer

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- At the time of this writing, there is only one confirmed case of the COVID-19 Omicron variant in Louisville, but health officials say they're expecting an explosion of cases in the coming weeks.

The lone Omicron patient is a 26-year-old woman who was fully vaccinated, but had not gotten a booster shot. She had no travel history, according to health officials.

"So we believe that she acquired it locally, which suggests that the omicron variant is circulating here already," said Dr. Sarahbeth Hartlage, associate medical director for Louisville's health department. "And I think those of us who follow these things are certainly of the belief that it's been here for a couple of weeks, but we are just now getting confirmatory labs."

Hartlage said the patient's symptoms are relatively mild.

"She had a fever. I believe she had a cough. But she never required oxygen  or hospital admission or anything like that," said Hartlage.

Hartlage said the jury is still out on the severity of the omicron variant. But she said it is so infectious there is a concern that even the milder cases can overwhelm the healthcare system after the holidays.

"A small percentage of a very large number is still a large number," she said. "It can still place a big strain on the healthcare system." 

Dr. Sarah Moyer, the city's chief health strategist, warned employers to prepare for disruptions. She said even if symptoms are not severe, it is possible that large numbers of employees could be out sick.

"Just make sure you're planning for impact on workforce," Dr. Moyer said. "Omicron can spread so fast that just having plans in place for your entire shift being out -- and what that backup plan is."

Mayor Greg Fischer said he has no plans for any new mandates such as masking or capacity restrictions, for now.

"We all know by now what we need to do, and what works when it comes to separation, masks, and vaccines. So we're going to continue that," said Fischer. "But if the city gets overrun by this variant, we're going to consider other measures." 

For now, health officials are urging Louisville residents to get vaccinated and boosted. Additionally, anyone attending holiday gatherings is advised to get tested.

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