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Omicron Is in at Least 5 States

Cases reported in New York, Minnesota, Colorado, Hawaii, California
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 3, 2021 12:34 AM CST
Omicron Is in at Least 5 States
In this image taken from video, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks during a virtual press conference, Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021, in New York.   (AP Photo)

(Newser) – The omicron variant of COVID-19, which had been undetected in the US before the middle of this week, had been discovered in at least five states by the end of Thursday, showing yet again how mutations of the virus can circumnavigate the globe with speed and ease. Just a day after the first known US case was found in California, tests showed the omicron variant had infected at least five people in the New York City metropolitan area, plus a man from Minnesota who had attended an anime convention in Manhattan in late November, the AP reports. A Colorado woman who had recently traveled to southern Africa, a Hawaii resident with no recent travel history, and another California resident who traveled to South Africa last month also were infected by the variant, officials said.

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Health officials in each state said there was no cause for undue alarm. But the spread of the cases, some involving people who hadn't been away from home recently, meant the variant was likely already circulating domestically in some parts of the US. The Minnesota man began experiencing mild symptoms Nov. 22, the day after attending the Anime NYC 2021 convention in New York City. Officials in New York said they were working to trace attendees of the convention, which was held Nov. 19-21 and drew about 50,000 people, according to event organizers. Attendees were required to wear masks and show proof of having received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and the man had been vaccinated and had received a booster.

Nov. 22 was the same day the person infected in the first California case returned to the US from South Africa. The California traveler, who was vaccinated, developed mild symptoms and tested positive Monday. The second person in the state didn’t need medical care and was also vaccinated. The unvaccinated adult infected with the variant in Hawaii had gotten COVID-19 a year ago. The person isn’t currently hospitalized and had “mild-to-moderate” symptoms including headache, body aches and cough, Hawaii Epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Kemble said. At least one of the five New York cases had received at least one vaccine dose, but the vaccination status of the four other cases has not been made public. (Read more omicron variant stories.)

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