Omicron found in 12 states; More cases await detection
At least two dozen cases of people infected with the highly mutated Omicron variant of the coronavirus had been reported in 12 states as of Saturday morning.
Most of the cases appeared to be from people who had traveled to South Africa recently, although the infected person in Hawaii had not traveled outside of their state, and in Minnesota, a vaccinated man who had attended an anime convention in New York City tested positive. Either way, health officials were bracing for the inevitable spread of the variant in the community.
None of the Omicron cases reported so far in the United States have resulted in serious illness, hospitalization or death.
Even as concerns about the Omicron variant escalate, senior federal health officials have said that for now, the Delta variant remains a greater threat to Americans.
“I know the news is focused on Omicron, but we have to remember that 99.9% of cases in the country right now are from the Delta variant,” said Dr Rochelle P. Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said at a press briefing on Friday. “Delta continues to generate cases across the country, especially among those who are not vaccinated. “
About 95,000 cases were reported in the United States every day, up from about 12,000 a day six months ago. The Midwestern states are seeing some of the biggest peaks, while New Hampshire, Michigan and Minnesota lead the country in recent cases per capita.
State health officials confirmed on Friday three cases in Maryland, all in the Baltimore area. Two of the cases are from the same household and include a vaccinated person who had recently traveled to South Africa and an unvaccinated person who was considered close contact. The third case is unrelated and the patient, who was vaccinated, has no known recent travel history.
ohofficials in Philadelphia said they found one case, a man in his thirties. The only case identified in Utah was a vaccinated individual who had just returned from South Africa. In Missouri, authorities have identified a case linked to domestic travel.
Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey said a fully vaccinated woman who recently traveled to South Africa tested positive for the Omicron variant after being treated in an emergency department in northern New Jersey. She was in isolation with mild symptoms, officials said.
New York state officials announced on Thursday that they had confirmed five variant cases: a 67-year-old woman from Suffolk County who returned from South Africa; two residents of Queens; a Brooklyn resident; and another person in New York who had traveled recently. The vaccination status of most people has not been known.
A vaccinated Colorado resident who recently returned from southern Africa was the state’s first confirmed case. California has reported a second case – the first being in San Francisco on Wednesday – in Los Angeles County. The infected person had been vaccinated and traveled to South Africa in November.
Authorities in Nebraska said Friday that of the six cases involving the Omicron variant found there, only one involved a person vaccinated. One of those infected had returned from Nigeria on November 23, they said, and the other five were likely exposed through family contact. None required hospitalization.
An Oahu resident with no travel history is the first Omicron case in Hawaii.
“This is a case of community spread,” the state’s health ministry said in a press release. The individual had previously been infected with the coronavirus but was never vaccinated.