RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – As the omicron variant continues to spread in parts of the country, the Virginia Department of Health is searching for any signs of the newest COVID-19 variant.

Virginia health leaders say the state lab is checking positive COVID-19 samples.

“Our state public health lab went back and looked at previously sequenced samples, knowing what omicron’s genome looks like, to see if we have any evidence to suggest that omicron was here in Virginia,” Dr. Brandy Darby, with the Virginia Department of Health, told WVEC.

There’s no evidence the omicron variant has made its way into the Commonwealth, but state health leaders are urging Virginians to stay protected.

The search comes as the omicron makes its way into five states across the country as of Thursday night. They include California, Colorado, Minnesota, Hawaii and New York.

Darby says the best way to stay protected is to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

“The other question on everyone’s mind: how well will the vaccines work with omicron? Will they still continue to protect us? And all of the evidence that we’re seeing so far, it’s showing that the vaccines are likely to be very good at continuing to protect us from serious outcomes,” Darby said.

On Thursday, WVEC spoke with Governor Ralph Northam, who urged everyone to get the shot.

“We’re having about 25 additional deaths every day in Virginia,” Northam said. “Our ICUs are full of patients with COVID. It’s avoidable.”

“So I plead with people do the right thing roll up your sleeve and get a shot, and that’s how we’ll put this pandemic behind us.”