At least a half dozen states confirm new omicron variant; FL so far has not reported cases

By: - December 3, 2021 3:25 pm

Novel coronavirus SARS CoV2, which causes COVID-19. The virus is now creating mutations that are spreading in the United States and elsewhere. Credit: National Institute on Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

The omicron variant continues to spread through the United States, with at least six states confirming cases of the new variant that first emerged in South Africa, according to federal health officials and state health departments.

They are: California, Minnesota, New York, Hawaii, Colorado, and Nebraska.

On Friday, the Nebraska health department became the latest state reporting cases of the omicron variant. According to a press release from the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, six cases were detected among Nebraska residents, with one resident connected to “international travel to Nigeria.”

The Nebraska health department stated that the first individual infected had gotten sick right before Thanksgiving and that the five other cases “were likely exposed through household contact with the first case.”

Dr. Matthew Donahue, Nebraska’s DHHS Acting State Epidemiologist, said in a written statement: “Coronavirus will continue to be with us forever. The identification of the latest variant, omicron, reinforces the importance of Nebraskans to get vaccinated. The more Nebraskans are vaccinated, the less opportunity new SARS-CoV-2 variants will have to take hold in the state.”

So far, Florida hasn’t announced any cases of the new variant of concern – classified by the World Health Organization on Nov. 26, as the variant began to spread rapidly in South Africa.

The Florida Phoenix has been tracking cases through various sources including press releases from state officials and public health departments and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The situation is rapidly evolving, while studies are underway by health experts to test vaccine effectiveness and transmissibility compared to other variants, as previously reported by the Phoenix.

On Thursday, state officials in Colorado confirmed an omicron variant case “identified in an adult female resident of Arapahoe County who had recently traveled to Southern Africa for tourism,” according to a press release.

That woman had been fully vaccinated and experienced minor symptoms, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

That same day, New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced that five cases related to omicron had been confirmed in the state, according to New York state officials.

One case was connected to an individual who had traveled to South Africa, while the other four cases were among New York City residents who had reported no history of international travel, according to a press release.

“As I’ve said since we first became aware of the emergence of the Omicron variant and said earlier today, it was only a matter of time before it was detected here in New York State,” Hochul said in a written statement Thursday.

Hochul has been monitoring the issue in her state through press conferences and informed residents to prepare for cases of the omicron variant. The first two U.S. cases were reported in California and Minnesota.

Hawaii officials also confirmed one case by community spread on Thursday, according to a Department of Health press release. The resident was not vaccinated and experienced mild symptoms. And the individual had no history of travel.

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Issac Morgan
Issac Morgan

Issac Morgan is a 2009 graduate of Florida A&M University's School of Journalism, and a proud native of Tallahassee. He has covered city council and community events at the Gadsden County Times, worked as a sports news assistant at the Tallahassee Democrat, a communications specialist for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and as a proofreader at the Florida Law Weekly.