By CBS13 Staff

DAVIS (CBS13) — Researchers at UC Davis are helping the state identify and track COVID-19 strains in our area.

Scientists at the Genome Center are taking positive tests from its mass testing program and breaking them down through a process called “genotyping.”

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They said it’s only a matter of time before the new Omicron variant shows up here.

“We’re ramping those efforts up with Amador, Nevada County, El Dorado County, and some other organizations in the area to help screen everyone’s positives to look for Omicron,” said project scientist David Coil.

The Genome Center has two machines that can each test up to 12,000 samples a day.

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On Wednesday, officials announced that a case of the Omicron variant was detected in California – the first such case in the US.

Still, state numbers have shown a steady decline of COVID-19 cases since a spike in the summer. California is averaging 9.5 new cases per 100,000 people over the past 8 weeks.

In recent months, virtually all US cases have been made up of the Delta variant.

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Last week, the World Health Organization designated the Omicron strain a “variant of concern” – with its mutations showing early signs that it’s even more transmissible than the Delta variant, and is likely resistant to existing vaccines.