Orange County records its first case of Omicron variant

Shoppers leave the Target along Harbor Boulevard.
Shoppers leave the Target along Harbor Boulevard on Tuesday in Costa Mesa. The state recently issued a mask mandate in response to the Omicron variant, identified by South African scientists in November. The Orange County Health Care Agency announced Friday the arrival of the first case of the Omicron variant in the county.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

The Orange County Health Care Agency announced Friday the arrival of the first case of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 in the county.

County health officials said the individual is an adult male who tested positive for the Omicron variant after domestic travel outside of the state of California. The man, who is fully vaccinated, experienced mild illness. Officials are currently following up on individuals that may have had close contact with him.

Experts believe the Omicron variant, first identified by South African scientists in November, is spreading so quickly that it may soon overtake the Delta variant as the dominant strain this winter, but it is still unclear what the severity of this variant will be.

“The Omicron variant is highly transmissible and has already been identified in the United States and many countries around the world,” said Dr. Matthew Zahn, deputy county health officer and medical director in Communicable Disease Control in a statement.


“We had anticipated that Omicron would arrive here in Orange County,” said Zahn. “It’s important that we all do our part by following public health guidance to protect our loved ones and neighbors, especially those who are most vulnerable, during the holiday season.”

Earlier this week, state officials implemented an indoor mask mandate for all individuals regardless of vaccination status ahead of what it feared would be a winter surge in cases.

According to the Centers for Disease Control’s COVID Data Tracker, Orange County is identified as having “substantial” transmission of the coronavirus on a four-tier scale that ranges from “low” to “high,” with California as a whole rated as the latter.

State officials said Monday the seven-day average case rate has increased by about 47% and hospitalizations by 14% since Thanksgiving weekend. On Friday, Orange County health officials reported 449 new cases and five deaths, including one transient and four individuals not currently living in a facility.

Area hospitals reported Friday that 198 COVID-19 patients are hospitalized and 56 of those are in intensive care units.

Here are the latest cumulative coronavirus case counts and COVID-19 deaths for select cities in Orange County, as of Friday afternoon:

  • Santa Ana: 50,677 cases; 952 deaths
  • Anaheim: 49,726 cases; 1,035 deaths
  • Huntington Beach: 15,073 cases; 262 deaths
  • Costa Mesa: 11,497 cases; 162 deaths
  • Irvine: 15,135 cases; 118 deaths
  • Newport Beach: 5,446 cases; 106 deaths
  • Fountain Valley: 4,661 cases; 101 deaths
  • Laguna Beach: 1,289 cases; 10 deaths

Here are the case counts by age group, followed by deaths:

  • 0 to 17: 38,133 cases; two deaths
  • 18 to 24: 42,680 cases; 10 deaths
  • 25 to 34: 63,216 cases; 75 deaths
  • 35 to 44: 49,513 cases; 160 deaths
  • 45 to 54: 49,589 cases; 401 deaths
  • 55 to 64: 39,477 cases; 876 deaths
  • 65 to 74: 19,772 cases; 1,141 deaths
  • 75 to 84: 9,939 cases; 1,407 deaths
  • 85 and older: 6,303 cases; 1,779 deaths

Updated figures are posted daily at For information on getting vaccinated, visit

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