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With today's announcement of the first case of the COVID-19 Omicron variant identified in the state of California, the City of St. Louis Department of Health reminds residents there are proven ways to protect themselves from COVID-19, its variants, and other respiratory illnesses.

The Omicron variant has been listed as a Variant of Concern by the World Health Organization (WHO) due to it's speculated ability to spread, potential severity of illness, and possible ability to evade immunity. The global scientific community continues to study these qualities while sharing information about Omicron with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Residents are advised to continue taking steps to protect themselves and their loved ones against the virus, especially through vaccination.

"We know there are proven mitigation strategies that work to protect us," says Dr. Mati Hlatshwayo Davis, Director of Health for the City of St. Louis. "Getting vaccinated for COVID-19, including getting boosters, remains critical to greatly reducing the severity of disease and death. Also, properly wearing a face covering when indoors around individuals not in your household, practicing social distancing, and regularly using proper hand hygiene practices – washing hands often with soap and water or using hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available are all proven ways to prevent becoming exposed and getting infected with SARS CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19."

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Visit the City of St. Louis COVID-19 Vaccine website or vaccines.gov to find a list of upcoming vaccination options near you. For those in need of personal protective equipment and hand sanitizer, contact a Saint Louis Public Library location near you to obtain a COVID-19 Care Kit, which contains reusable face coverings, hand sanitizer, educational materials, and a reusable bag.

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