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A healthcare worker inserts a Covid-19 rapid test into a machine in Denver, Colorado. Photo: Daniel Brenner/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Hawaii became on Thursday the fifth state to confirm the newly discovered Omicron variant after New York announced five new cases earlier in the day.

The latest: In Hawaii, the variant was found in an unvaccinated O'ahu resident with moderate symptoms who had previously been infected with COVID-19, per a state health department statement. The variant has also been confirmed in California, Colorado and Minnesota.

What we know: The Colorado case was found in an Arapahoe County woman who traveled throughout southern Africa and returned late last week, per Axios' John Frank.

  • The woman was vaccinated but had not received a booster shot. She also wore a mask in her travels, officials said. She is experiencing mild systems and is quarantining.
  • She developed symptoms after returning home and no cases of community transmission are anticipated.

What they're saying: "This was expected news," Gov. Jared Polis said in a briefing Thursday.

  • "Any variant that is so prevalent in the world as the omicron variant is, we knew it wasn't a matter of if, it was a matter of when it was identified in Colorado."

Hochul stressed that there was no cause to panic, but urged New Yorkers to wear masks indoors and receive their vaccinations and boosters.

  • She added that contract tracing was starting. Two cases were in Queens, one in Brooklyn and a fourth, from a test on Nov. 30, in Suffolk County. The location of the fifth individual was unidentified.
  • Hochul said that she wasn't ruling out a vaccine mandate if necessary, but added that there was not enough information yet to take that step.
  • The state, she said, also has other tools ready to use that it did not have last year.
  • "We have so much available that we’re ready to deploy," she said. “Have confidence in what we’re able to do."

Editor's note: This article has been updated to include details of confirmation of the Hawaii case.

Go deeper

Jan 15, 2022 - Health

Experts warn of more COVID-19 variants after Omicron

Three COVID-19 testing companies place testing locations outside Grand Central Terminal on Jan. 14 in New York City. Photo: Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

Experts are warning that subsequent COVID-19 variants are likely to come after Omicron, AP reports.

Why it matters: The warnings come as there's no guarantee that subsequent variants "will cause milder illness or that existing vaccines will work against them," underscoring the need for widespread vaccination, AP writes.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Political consultants pocket taxpayer cash

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Members of Congress are turning to the same political consultants who got them elected to blast out taxpayer-funded communications from their government offices, records show.

Why it matters: While those members are barred from politicking with official funds, the firms have expertise in boosting elected officials' images for political gain and are in high demand for both campaign and government work.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Transplants rebound from COVID lull
  2. Vaccines: WHO: No evidence that healthy children, teens need boosters — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America
  3. Politics: Government website for free COVID tests launches early
  4. World: Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older
  5. Variant tracker

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