The Omicron variant of COVID-19 has been confirmed in Erie county, with six cases identified so far.


The county health department said researchers at Gannon University found the cases during routine testing of a community group. The result isn't surprising, as health experts had expected the variant was already here.


At a testing clinic in Summit Township, doctors urged caution, stressing the need for vaccination, testing and masking. People getting tested said they're both scared and frustrated that another surge of cases is likely on the way.

"It took me a year to get over COVID. I'm just now coming back, and now I've got to take precautions of another part of this coming through. I'm very upset and scared," said Erie County resident Autumn Bassham.

As the rapidly spreading Omicron variant drives up the demand for rapid tests, even the county is being forced to adjust. It had been using the commonly available BinaxNOW brand tests, but the county had to switch to another brand, as BinaxNOW tests are hard to come by.