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Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The White House Office of Public Liaison has hired Nicole Frazier, Sen. Cory Gardner's regional director, as the new head of African American outreach, three sources familiar with the hire told Axios.

Why it matters: The position has been vacant for a few months and was a top priority for the administration as it ramps up President Trump's re-election efforts, including plans to boost Trump’s 2020 support among African Americans, one of the sources said.

Context: Omarosa Manigault Newman, who served as the most senior African American staffer in the White House until she was fired in December 2017, had handled African American outreach as part of her job.

  • Henry Childs II took over after her departure, but was hired by the Commerce Department as national director of the Minority Business Development Agency in September, where he was juggling both responsibilities. OPL then formally began a new search for his replacement in March.

What they're saying: Paris Dennard, former White House director of Black Outreach for President George W. Bush, texted Axios: “I’m glad President Trump was able to identify such a capable person in Nicole, to serve in OPL for this incredibly important position. ... It’s a good thing to have another African American at the table in the White House as our advocate and I stand ready to help her succeed.”

  • The White House declined to comment, and Gardner's office did not respond to requests for comment.

Go deeper

WHO warns against travel bans on southern African countries

Matshidiso Moeti, World Health Organization regional director for Africa. Photo: Sylvain Gaboury/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

The World Health Organization called on countries Sunday to not impose travel bans on southern African nations amid concerns over the new COVID-19 Omicron variant.

Why it matters: The U.S. and countries in Europe and the Asia-Pacific announced travel restrictions in response to Omicron, which was first detected in South Africa. It's since spread to several European countries, Canada, Israel, Australia and Hong Kong. The WHO noted in a statement that only two southern African nations have detected the new variant.

Updated 4 hours ago - Health

First North American Omicron cases identified in Canada

COVID-19 testing personnel at Toronto Pearson International Airport in September. Photo: Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images

The first two cases of the new Omicron variant have been detected in North America, the Canadian government announced Sunday evening.

Driving the news: The World Health Organization has named Omicron a "variant of concern," but cautioned earlier on Sunday that it is not yet clear whether it's more transmissible than other strains of COVID-19.

7 hours ago - Health

WHO: Not yet known whether Omicron leads to more severe disease

Photo illustration: Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The World Health Organization on Sunday said that it is not yet clear whether the newly discovered Omicron variant is more transmissible than other strains of the COVID-19 virus.

Why it matters: The agency's statement comes as the variant, discovered in South Africa, has already been detected in European and Asian countries.