DC, Maryland, Virginia leaders reacting to looming omicron threat

Health departments in the District, Maryland and Virginia are actively testing positive samples in anticipation of the arrival of the omicron variant of COVID-19.

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The Virginia Health Department expects the variant to show up eventually.

Local governments and businesses are planning ahead for another winter marked by precautions.

According to President Joe Biden, however, lockdowns do not appear to be part of the national strategy.

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Speaking at the White House on Monday, the president emphasized vaccinations as the key to defeating COVID-19, and state and leaders are echoing the same message.

Virginia Health Commissioner Dr. Norman Oliver is asking residents to make getting vaccinated a priority appointment.

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"We all want this pandemic to end. Please, if you haven’t been vaccinated already and are eligible, get vaccinated. And if you are eligible for a booster, please get your booster as soon as you can," he said.

Virginia is seeing high levels of transmission statewide.

The Commonwealth lifted its indoor mask requirements in May. Still, health officials say, in areas of substantial or high transmission, it’s important to:

- Wear a mask in indoor public places

- Get tested

- Stay home when sick

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan met with his COVID-19 response team and he says they are closely monitoring the developments.

Hogan says the most important thing people can do is get vaccinated and also get a booster shot.