Omicron variant detected in Minnesota
The new Omicron variant has been detected in a vaccinated Minnesota resident with recent travel history to New York City, the Minnesota Department of Health said in a statement Thursday.
Driving the news: The confirmed case involved a patient who developed mild symptoms on Nov. 22 and got a COVID-19 test on Nov. 24, per MDH. He is no longer experiencing symptoms.
- Prior to testing positive, he had attended the Anime NYC 2021 convention at the Javits Center from Nov. 19-21.
- The individual was vaccinated more than six months ago and received a booster shot in early November, Minnesota Health commissioner Jan Malcolm said.
State of play: The Minnesota case comes one day after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the United States' first known case of the variant.
- Omicron cases have also been confirmed across Europe, Canada, Israel, Hong Kong and Australia, among other countries, since the variant was first identified by scientists in South Africa last month.
What they're saying: "This news is concerning, but it is not a surprise. We know that this virus is highly infectious and moves quickly throughout the world," Gov. Tim Walz said in a statement. "Minnesotans know what to do to keep each other safe now — get the vaccine, get tested, wear a mask indoors, and get a booster."
- Later, speaking at a stop in northern Minnesota, the governor said the news has not changed his decision to hold off on reinstating a statewide mask mandate or other restrictions.
Between the lines: Malcolm said Wednesday that the variant would likely be "quickly" detected once it appeared in the state, thanks to robust testing, surveillance and genome sequencing programs.
- More specimens flagged as potential Omicron cases are being tested. Those samples are not necessarily connected to the confirmed patient.
What you can do: Malcolm and other state officials are urging residents to get vaccinated, wear masks and stay home and seek testing if they experience symptoms.
- "[Omicron] is another kind of wake up call, if we needed another one, that this remains a global challenge," Malcolm said. "Even though we might feel like we're done with the pandemic, it is most certainly not done with us."
Go deeper: Omicron dashboard
Editor's note: This story has been updated with new details throughout.
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