This Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) scientist was preparing a patient’s sample for SARS-CoV-2 antibody testing, using the CDC serologic test. (James Gathany/CDC 2020)

Monterey County has confirmed its first cases of the omicron variant, county health officials said Thursday, with six cases of the virus identified over the last week.

The Monterey County Health Department’s Public Health Laboratory identified the cases via whole genome sequencing. While the county did not release information about the six residents, the county did note their specimens were all collected since mid-December.

“Based on data from other areas where Omicron has been active, Monterey County Health Department cautions residents that a surge in local cases may be likely in the coming weeks,” the county said in a statement.

The variant has also been confirmed in Alameda, Contra Costa, San Francisco, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Marin and Napa counties.

Statewide, 191 cases of the variant have been confirmed as of Tuesday, according to the California Department of Public Health.

Monterey County health officials noted that early research has found that omicron is highly transmissible, even more so than the delta variant, and a booster vaccine dose is likely necessary to maintain an effective immune response to the virus.

Boosters are recommended for people age 16 and up who got their second Pfizer or Moderna vaccine dose at least six months ago or those who got their single Johnson & Johnson vaccine dose at least two months ago.

Residents are also encouraged to get tested for the virus before and after traveling or attending holiday gatherings with people from other households.

Information about how to get a COVID-19 vaccination or test can be found at

As of Monday, 78 percent of Monterey County residents age 5 and up have gotten at least one vaccine dose. The county has confirmed 50,949 COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began.