FRANKFORT, Ky. — The omicron variant of COVID-19 has now been found in several areas across Kentucky.

What You Need To Know

  • The omicron variant has made its way to Kentucky

  • Positive cases have been confirmed in at least four counties

  • Omicron is more transmissible than other variants, but is believed to be cause less severe disease

  • While cases are spiking in Kentucky, hospitalizations are not

Gov. Andy Beshear announced on Friday that positive samples were reported in the Commonwealth. He confirmed on Saturday that cases have been detected in Fayette, Kenton, Jefferson and Campbell counties.

"If we don’t make the decision to put back on masks in these situations, it’s going to disrupt everything we’ve worked so hard for," Beshear said during a press conference Saturday afternoon. 

Joined by Dr. Steven Stack, Beshear urged all eligible Kentuckians to get vaccinated and boosted against both COVID-19 and the seasonal flu.

Last week, Beshear said cases of COVID-19 were going up, pointing to the delta variant, which he referred to as “our enemy No. 1.”

Dr. Stack, the state's top public health commissioner, said the new variant can spread through communities "fairly quickly" and he expects breakthrough cases to go up statewide. 

Researchers have found through preliminary studies that while omicron is much more contagious than previous variants, it appears to cause much less severe disease, especially in vaccinated persons.

Calling the omicron variant "one of the most transmissible and contagious diseases we've had in the last century," Stack said it could represent more than half of all variants in the state within a few weeks. That's something Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, also said.

Some good news came out of Saturday's press conference: while the case numbers are spiking, hospitalizations have not shown a spike in other areas hit by the omicron variant.