Live Covid Updates: An Omicron Variant Found In Multiple US States
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With cases of the Omicron variant now recorded from New York to Hawaii, health officials across the United States say community spread of the virus is inevitable, with case already traveling from an anime convention to New York in Minnesota.
President Biden confronts the disturbing new variant with a strategy that encourages boosters for all adults, and aims to expand testing availability and improve its accessibility, plans set out in a National Institutes of Health speech Thursday.
Mr Biden reiterated on Friday morning that his administration’s new measures were sufficient to deal with the spread of the new variant.
“I think I know quite a bit about this issue, but I’m not a scientist, so I still trust scientists and ask them whether or not we need to go beyond what we did yesterday. “, he declared at the press conference. White House. “Right now they’re saying no. ”
Additional cases of Omicron are being reported across the country. Authorities said New York State has confirmed its first five cases of the variant: 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.
Another case was identified in a vaccinated man from Minnesota who had recently traveled to New York for an anime convention at the Javits Center in Midtown Manhattan, which hosted 53,000 attendees for three days. Officials immediately urged all convention attendees to get tested.
Minnesota officials credited robust disease surveillance systems for finding the case.
“This news is worrying, but it is not a surprise,” Governor Tim Walz said in a statement. “We know this virus is highly infectious and is moving rapidly around the world. Minnesotans know what to do to protect each other now – get vaccinated, get tested, wear a mask inside and get a booster. “
A vaccinated Colorado resident who recently returned from southern Africa was the state’s first confirmed case. An additional case in California – the first being in San Francisco on Wednesday – has been announced in Los Angeles County. The infected person had been vaccinated and traveled to South Africa in November.
Authorities in Nebraska reported on Friday that they had found six cases involving the Omicron variant, only one of which involved an unvaccinated person. One of those infected had returned from Nigeria on November 23, they said, and the other five were likely exposed through family contact with the person. None required hospitalization.
But 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.
In a rare joint press conference Thursday, Governor Kathy Hochul of New York and Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York urged residents not to panic in light of confirmed cases of Omicron and recommended booster injections for eligible people. They said it was too early to know how much of a threat the variant could pose to the state.
“We are not at all defenseless against this variant,” Ms. Hochul said, adding, “We don’t have any closures. We don’t change our protocols.
Still, Mr de Blasio said he expected to see more cases of Omicron detected in the coming days: “We have to assume there is community spread.”
The variant has raised concern among scientists and public health officials due to an unusually high number of mutations. But it will be at least weeks before scientists can say for sure if it’s more contagious (early evidence suggests), if it causes more serious illness, and how it responds to vaccines.
Adele Hassan contributed reports.
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