JOHNSON CITY, Tenn (WJHL) — Omicron is now the dominant strain of COVID-19 in Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia, a Ballad Health official said Monday.

Tests on COVID-19 samples conducted by the regional health system found a majority were the highly contagious Omicron variant of the virus.

“The majority of specimens that we tested were, in fact, Omicron,” said Jamie Swift, Ballad Health Chief Infection Prevention Officer. “So we do believe that Omicron is probably the leading strain that’s circulating in the area.”

Health officials have been predicting this would happen and that the variant would lead to a surge in cases because it is so easily spread.

Swift said that was of great concern to her as children returned to schools after the Christmas break without mask requirements or social distancing measures in place.

“Because it’s so contagious there’s going to be an influx of cases,” she said. “We’re going to see new cases probably higher than we’ve seen. That means more kids are going to get infected.”