LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — The omicron variant of COVID-19 has a foothold in Nevada, with five cases now reported in the state as of Monday, according to Dr. Mark Pandori, director of the Nevada State Health Laboratory in Reno.

“Five total that I’m aware of,” Pandori told 8 News Now. He said new information on additional cases was not immediately available.

Three of the cases are in Clark County, Pandori confirmed, and there are confirmed cases in Washoe County and Churchill County.

The new variant is highly contagious and expected to spread rapidly, according to U.S. health officials.

The first omicron case in Nevada was detected last week, and the Southern Nevada Health District reports that the woman who contracted the virus was out of the country during the incubation period. Since she returned to Clark County, she has been isolating and has not been hospitalized.

Details on the two additional cases in the county were not available.

Medical experts say illnesses associated with the omicron variant are milder than other forms of COVID-19, but it spreads easily between people.

Doctors advise patients to get vaccinated, and to get a booster shot if they have already been vaccinated.

The vaccine does not prevent infection, but it reduces the severity of illness, officials said. Dr. Anthony Fauci, appearing on CBS This Morning on Tuesday, encouraged Americans to get the vaccine.

Fauci was asked on CNN whether he expected a record numbers of cases — and what about hospitalizations and deaths. “Yes, well, unfortunately, I think that that is going to happen,” he said.

President Joe Biden plans to deliver 500 million free COVID-19 tests to Americans, increase support for hospitals and expand the availability of vaccines to confront a winter surge of coronavirus cases driven by the omicron variant.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.