Scientists racing to gauge the threat of omicron

The omicron variant is set to spread quickly throughout the United States, health experts warn, but what will happen after that is still less certain, as the severity of the variant is still in question.

Omicron has spread twice as fast as the delta variant in South Africa; 200,000 people are becoming infected with omicron every day in Britain; and in Denmark, omicron cases are doubling roughly every two days.

Early data from the United States suggests that Americans will see nothing different, though delta remains the dominant variant nationwide. Roughly 120,000 new COVID cases are being reported daily, a 40% increase from two weeks prior.

But omicron could soon surpass these numbers, with the share of cases caused by omicron increasing to 2.9% from 0.4% in just a week, according to data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Latest COVID-19 data

South Carolina health officials reported 1,242 total cases of COVID-19 Dec. 17, with 796 confirmed. A total of 16 new deaths, with 15 confirmed, were also reported.

With 15,700 tests reported today, 7.3% were confirmed positive.

Percentage of S.C. residents age 12+ with at least one vaccine: 64.2%
Percentage of of S.C. residents age 12+ who have completed vaccination: 55.7%
Percentage of S.C. residents age 5-11 with at least one vaccine: 10.0%
Percentage of S.C. residents age 5-11 who have completed vaccination: 5.2%