As concern mounts across the world regarding the new omicron variant of the coronavirus, the Frederick County Health Department said the best methods for suppressing the spread of the virus remain the same: testing, isolation for those ill or infected, quarantine for those exposed and vaccination.

The World Health Organization designated the strain of the virus as a “variant of concern” Friday, warning that its high number of mutations could mean future surges of COVID-19. First discovered by scientists in South Africa, the omicron variant has also been detected in Australia, Botswana, Canada and Denmark, among other countries.

As of Monday evening, no cases of the variant had been identified in the U.S.

President Joe Biden sought to reassure the country Monday, telling Americans the variant is “a cause for concern, not a cause for panic.” He had restricted travel from eight nations, including South Africa, as of Monday evening. On Thursday, he is expected to outline a strategy for fighting the virus this winter with vaccinations, boosters and testing, rather than lockdowns.

In an email Monday, Frederick County Health Department spokeswoman Rissah Watkins said it remains uncertain how transmissible the new variant is or how well vaccines and immunity from prior infection protect against transmission, severe illness and death. Research efforts at the state level and at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are ongoing, she said, and new data is expected to be available in the coming weeks.

“Despite uncertainties, it is reasonable to assume that currently available vaccines offer some protection against severe disease and death,” she wrote.

Evidence reported as of Monday show that most diagnostic tests are able to detect the omicron variant, Watkins wrote, though studies are currently assessing whether the efficacy of some antigen-based rapid tests may be affected. Maryland’s health department monitors the spread of COVID-19 variants in the state, and the CDC monitors the spread of variants in the country, she wrote.

The proliferation of the new variant is coming at a time when positivity rates are climbing in Frederick. As of Monday, the county had a seven-day positivity rate of 7.38 percent — the highest it’s been since late January. The state’s average positivity rate was 4.76 percent as of the same day. Thirty-four people were hospitalized in the county on Sunday because of the virus, including nine who were being treated in the intensive care unit.

Last week, the county’s Board of Health voted to release a statement in conjunction with the health department recommending that people 2 years and older wear masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status — an advisory that fell in line with guidance released over the summer by the CDC.

At its meeting, the local body — which includes county Health Officer Dr. Barbara Brookmyer, County Executive Jan Gardner (D) and the County Council’s seven members — forewent discussions of implementing a mask mandate despite advocacy from Councilman Jerry Donald (D).

Though the next regularly scheduled health board meeting is slated to take place in May, Watkins said board members would be able to call a meeting as needed.

As omicron spreads, a spotlight has been thrust on the disparities in global vaccination rates. Only 7.2 percent of people in Africa are fully vaccinated, compared to 43 percent worldwide and 58 percent in the U.S., according to “Our World in Data,” a project based out of the University of Oxford.

In Frederick County, 64.8 percent of the population was fully vaccinated as of Monday.

Follow Angela Roberts on Twitter: @24_angier

(15) comments


Lots of sheep continue to sound oh, so scared. Covid fatigue. Masks suck.


Yeah, too bad nearly 780,000 US citizens thought like you. Hmmm...where are they now? Thought they were badass and edgy, but they were dumbass and dead(ly).

I'll just bet those on their deathbed were saying "I am so glad I didn't wear a mask or get vaccinated." Nope, not likely.




marynick1, have you been invited to be a member of the BTT(BullyTagTeam) yet? Seems like you’re sure trying to suck up to the Founder and President of the group by attacking his main antagonizers. That’s why I stay here, to watch you characters perform. I’ll give you a recommendation if you think it will help. Peace mary.✌️😷


I heard a guy on the radio put it this way, "We are at war with the virus and everyone chooses a side."


I know that people don't want to wear a mask inside of businesses and think that this virus is a joke but really how long are you in the building if you are working maybe 8 hours with some breaks to take them off and maybe replace them with a new one, if you are shopping depending upon how much you need maybe 45 minutes at the most. If you think about it really it's not that much to ask in order to help protect yourself and the people around you especially younger kids and people who can't get the vaccine.

What I don't understand is why even have a Department of Health if they are not going to do what is in the best interest of the people despite how people may react to their decisions.

They should have issued an indoor mask mandate. Oh well if people's feelings were hurt. It's a matter of public health safety not a matter of how people are going to react.


Get vaccinated and wear a mask dang it! Make it your contribution to Society. Thank you.

Jim Hartley

Yes. There is something called the Herman Cain award on Reddit, some of the stories are truly tragic. And what an excruciating way to die, or even survive. Be good to your fellow citizens and protect yourself and your family. Get vaccinated.


True, some of those stories at are truly tragic, as the recipients are leaving behind families to deal with the anguish. And there are several stories where both parents die leaving small children orphaned. All after posting for months how Covid is a hoax and no worse than the flu and only 0.3% die from it, etc.


Do what you can to avoid replacing one of the dozens of Covid patients currently in the Frederick Hospital. After all this time, it is crazy that we are still inundated with the virus, yet virus fatigue causes so many to forget it. Omicron has 30 mutations in the spike protein gene, so it is practically a different species of virus. Its mutation rate has surprised scientists, but that is a consequence of it infecting so many hosts.




Make your contribution to society, Fido, by minding your own business.


When you're infecting me and/or my family and friends it is my business. You should be making it your business and get vaccinated right now.


Omg 🤦‍♀️ “Mankind is our business.”


Are you trying to be as mean and nasty as Mr. Reid marynick1? And you’ve actually started to talk instead of just putting some thumbs up to everything Mr. Reid says. You are like a second order Sheeple, Trump⤵️Mr. Reid⤵️marynick1. As far as minding my own business….. nah!! Peace mary.✌️😷

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it clean. No vulgar, racist, sexist or sexually-oriented language.
Engage ideas. This forum is for the exchange of ideas, not personal attacks or ad hominem criticisms.
Be civil. Don't threaten. Don't lie. Don't bait. Don't degrade others.
No trolling. Stay on topic.
No spamming. This is not the place to sell miracle cures.
No deceptive names. Apparently misleading usernames are not allowed.
Say it once. No repetitive posts, please.
Help us. Use the 'Report' link for abusive posts.

Thank you for reading!

Please log in, or sign up for a new account and purchase a subscription to read or post comments.