These are the states where the omicron variant has been identified
The omicron coronavirus variant has been found in at least 32 U.S. states as well as Washington, D.C., just days after the first case in the country was announced.
The new variant, which was first discovered in South Africa, was announced in late November and has already spread to dozens of countries across the world. One day after Thanksgiving, the World Health Organization (WHO) held an emergency meeting on the variant, which it has determined is a “variant of concern.”
“We know we have several dozen cases [of omicron] and we’re following them closely, and we are every day hearing about more and more probable cases, so that number is likely to rise,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”
Omicron earned the WHO classification due to its large number of mutations and increased risk of reinfection, according to evidence from the health body’s research.
Following the news of the omicron variant, world leaders, including President Biden, instated travel bans from southern African countries in an attempt to stop the spread.
Scientists are still unsure of how transmissible the variant is, if it renders the coronavirus vaccines ineffective and if it is more deadly than previous strains.
But despite those mitigation efforts, at least 32 states have reported omicron cases since the end of November, including some in people who have not traveled internationally in recent weeks.
The variant is likely already present in other states as well. The U.S. only performs sequencing testing on a fraction of positive COVID-19 samples to determine which strain of the virus individuals are infected with, and some states are better at sequencing positive tests than others. This could account for why some states have detected the new variant more quickly than others, and some have not yet detected it at all.
Here are the states where the omicron variant has been confirmed so far.
The Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) and Yavapai County Community Health Services (YCCHS) announced the first omicron case in the state on Dec. 8.
The state did not give any information about the individual’s age, vaccination status or recent travel history in the announcement.
“Much remains unknown about the Omicron variant at this time, including whether it is more transmissible and more capable of producing severe illness than the Delta variant,” Don Herrington, ADHS interim director, said.
“We do know that current COVID-19 vaccines have remained very effective against Delta and other variants, and I strongly encourage Arizonans to get vaccinated if they aren’t already and make sure they’re current on their booster dose if they are fully vaccinated,” Herrington said.
California was the first state to report a case of the omicron variant in the U.S. on Dec. 1.
Officials said the first omicron case in California was detected in a fully vaccinated San Francisco resident.
The person had mild symptoms after traveling back from South Africa on Nov. 22.
All those who had close contact with the individual tested negative for the virus.
An omicron case was detected in Colorado on Dec. 2, making it the third case reported in the nation in the first week of December. The patient was a woman from Arapahoe County.
She had recently traveled back from a vacation in southern Africa when she tested positive.
The woman was fully vaccinated and experienced only minor symptoms from the variant.
Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D) said on Dec. 4 that the first case of omicron had been recorded in the state. He added that the patient’s symptoms were mild and that the infected individual had not required hospitalization.
He also said the individual was fully vaccinated. The governor’s office added that a family member of the infected person traveled to New York City between Nov. 17 and 22 to attend the Anime NYC 2021 convention held at the Javits Center.
“This likely is not the only case of the variant in the state. That being said, I must urge everyone in Connecticut not to panic,” Lamont said.
District of Columbia
Washington, D.C., confirmed four unrelated omicron cases on Dec. 12.
The first infected individual confirmed was a fully vaccinated woman who had recently traveled to Florida and New York.
The second was another fully vaccinated woman who went to Maryland for Thanksgiving.
The third was a man who was fully vaccinated from the virus and had no recent travel history.
The fourth was a fully vaccinated woman who went to Virginia for Thanksgiving.
The first woman did not receive a COVID-19 booster shot, while the booster status for the rest were unknown.
All close contacts for the women were notified of the exposure, while there were no known close contacts for the man.
James A. Haley Veterans Hospital reported the first case of the omicron variant in Florida on Dec. 7.
The hospital confirmed that the infected patient had traveled internationally recently and was experiencing mild symptoms from the variant.
The hospital did not say where the patient had recently traveled.
The hospital recommended the COVID-19 vaccine and booster shots as the best way to fight the coronavirus.
The Georgia Department of Public Health announced the state’s first omicron case on Dec. 3.
The case was in a Georgia resident who recently traveled to South Africa. The person was in Georgia for two days after flying back from South Africa before heading up to New Jersey.
The individual was fully vaccinated and went to the emergency department in New Jersey due to moderate symptoms from the virus.
On Dec. 6, the state reported its first in-state case of omicron in an individual who recently traveled to South Africa. The person developed mild symptoms and it is unclear if they were vaccinated from the virus.
A third case was reported on Dec. 9 in an unvaccinated person who had no recent international travel history. The individual had mild symptoms and was isolated at home.
Hawaii reported its first omicron case on Dec. 2 in a resident who was unvaccinated.
The state’s health department said the person did not have a recent travel history, meaning they contracted the omicron variant through community spread — a fact that suggests there are more omicron cases in Hawaii.
The person had already contracted the coronavirus in previous months and was experiencing moderate symptoms from the variant.
The case was detected on the island of Oahu.
Central District Health announced Idaho’s first omicron case on Dec. 10 in an individual over 50 years old.
The fully vaccinated individual is from Ada County and was only experiencing very mild symptoms at the time of the announcement.
The resident had recently traveled out of state before testing positive for the variant.
“It’s important for people to realize that this new and highly transmissible variant has now been detected in Idaho, and many areas across the US. Many Idahoans regularly travel this time of year, and we need to remember to continue to take precautions, including receiving your vaccine or vaccine booster if you have not done so already,” Communicable Disease Control Manager for CDH Lindsay Haskell said.
The first omicron case in Illinois was detected on Dec. 7, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) said in a joint statement.
The Chicago resident who was infected was fully vaccinated with a booster shot, and did not require hospitalization for the variant, they said.
The individual was a close contact of a person from another state who visited Chicago and was found to have the omicron variant.
The Chicago resident isolated when their symptoms began and contact tracing was performed by health officials.
The state’s health department confirmed its first omicron case on Dec. 9.
The infected individual is a minor from Black Hawk County who was unvaccinated.
The minor was not experiencing any symptoms at the time, but got tested after recent domestic travel as a precaution.
The Louisiana Department of Health reported the state’s first omicron COVID-19 variant case on Dec. 5.
The health agency said the unidentified person who tested positive is a New Orleans resident and has traveled within the U.S.
Louisiana health officials also said at least 10 people on a Norwegian Cruise Line ship that arrived in New Orleans on Dec. 5 had contracted COVID-19, though it was unclear at the time of their statement which strain of the virus had caused the infections.
Health officials said passengers were being tested before they disembarked and asked to self-isolate if they were found to be infected.
Maryland announced three omicron cases on Dec. 3 in residents in the Baltimore area.
Two of the positive cases were detected in members of the same household. One vaccinated family member recently traveled to South Africa, while the other did not have a recent travel history and was unvaccinated.
The third resident was not related to the other patients and had no notable travel history.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health said Dec. 4 that a fully vaccinated woman in her 20s had tested positive for the new omicron variant.
The woman had recently traveled out of Massachusetts, had a mild case of COVID-19 and didn’t need to be hospitalized, officials said. She’s a resident of Middlesex County, which is close to Boston
“We’re very much still in the pandemic, and the best thing we can do is to continue getting people vaccinated,” Boston Mayor Michelle Wu (D) said after news of the omicron variant in the state was made public.
The first omicron case in Michigan was detected on Dec. 9 in Kent County, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS).
The Michigan Disease Surveillance System received a report of the case on Dec. 3, with the confirmation it was the omicron variant coming from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) after genetic sequencing on Dec. 9.
The infected individual was fully vaccinated without a booster shot. The person’s travel history was unknown at the time it was announced, as the case was still under investigation.
“The identification of the Omicron variant is not unexpected,” Dr. Adam London, Kent County Health Department Director, said. “We are fortunate that we have effective, safe and available vaccines that can protect us from this illness. We continue to urge people to get their vaccine and to get their boosters as soon as they are eligible.”
Minnesota was the second state to confirm the omicron variant in the U.S. on Dec. 2.
The variant was found in a person who had recently traveled from New York City and was vaccinated.
The man developed mild symptoms from the variant that have since cleared.
However, there are concerns about his infection, as it was revealed that the man had attended the Anime NYC 2021 convention in the days before his symptoms appeared. Tens of thousands of people attended the convention.
After the news broke of the Minnesota man’s diagnosis, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) urged all 53,000 attendees of the event to get tested.
If you attended the Anime NYC 2021 Convention at the Javits Center from November 18-22, get tested for #COVID19 as soon as possible.
➡️ https://t.co/fESkqpcKQo pic.twitter.com/niI8ENg3ez
— City of New York (@nycgov) December 2, 2021
The Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) announced the state’s first omicron case on Dec. 6.
The infected individual tested positive for the variant after recently traveling to New York.
The person was fully vaccinated and did not require hospitalization.
“We were prepared for the appearance of this variant in Mississippi, and we need to remember that Delta is still a very active variant of COVID-19 currently in the state, as well,” said MSDH State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs.
Missouri announced its first omicron case Dec. 3 in a St. Louis City resident.
The presumed omicron case still needed to be confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at the time of the announcement, but officials said the woman had a recent domestic travel history.
State officials did not say if the woman was vaccinated against the virus.
Nebraska announced six omicron cases on Dec. 3, with the outbreak occurring through household contact.
The first case was likely a person who returned from Nigeria on Nov. 23 and began experiencing symptoms on Nov. 24.
None of the residents had gone to the hospital at the time of reporting. Only one of the six infected people was vaccinated against the virus.
The Southern Nevada Health District announced the state’s first omicron case on Dec. 14.
The individual is a woman in her mid-20s who is fully vaccinated against the virus, but has not received the booster shot.
Her recent travel history was not shared in the statement from health officials.
“We knew that it was only a matter of time that we would identify the Omicron variant in Southern Nevada,” Dr. Fermin Leguen, District Health Officer for the Southern Nevada Health District, said.
“People can protect themselves from all variants of the COVID-19 virus by getting fully vaccinated and getting a booster when they are eligible, wearing a mask in public indoor settings, regardless of their vaccination status, and staying home and getting tested if they are sick,” Leguen added.
Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul announced five omicron cases on Dec. 2, making New York the fourth state to find the new variant.
Four cases were found in New York City, with two in Queens, one in Brooklyn and one other in an unknown borough. The fifth positive case was in Suffolk County.
The Suffolk County case appeared in a 67-year-old woman who was at least partially vaccinated. Officials were unsure if she had completed her vaccination series. The woman had recently traveled to South Africa.
The resident from the unknown borough traveled from South Africa and tested negative for the coronavirus on Nov. 25, but a second test on Nov. 30 revealed a positive result.
Hochul said the resident in the unknown borough was a “suspected traveler case.” The vaccination statuses of all the affected residents in New York City were unclear.
Health officials in Mecklenburg County announced that the first omicron case in North Carolina was detected on Dec. 10.
The infected individual was a student at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte who traveled back to campus after Thanksgiving.
The student had already recovered from their symptoms and no additional cases had been found so far on campus at the time of the announcement.
Close contacts to the student had already been notified through the school’s contact tracing protocols at that time.
The Ohio Department of Health announced the state’s first two omicron cases on Dec. 11.
The cases were detected in adult males who took PCR tests on Dec. 7.
Both men were fully vaccinated more than six months prior and had not received a booster shot.
The health department said neither person had a history of international travel and that they were only experiencing mild symptoms that did not require hospitalization.
Health officials said they were working on contact tracing to determine who the men could have potentially infected.
The Oregon Health Authority announced on Dec. 13 that three individuals in the state tested positive for the omicron variant.
The first individual from Multnomah County in their 20s tested positive on Dec. 7. The resident, who is fully vaccinated, traveled to Canada before testing positive for the variant.
The second person was a fully vaccinated individual from Washington County in their 20s. They tested positive on Dec. 9. The state did not disclose the person’s recent travel history.
The last individual who tested positive on Dec. 9 was also from Washington County and fully vaccinated. The person recently traveled internationally to Mexico.
The state said additional details regarding their health status were not available.
“Even if a vaccine doesn’t target a specific variant, the strong immune response you get from being fully vaccinated can still be highly protective against severe disease from all COVID-19 variants,” Oregon State Epidemiologist Dean Sidelinger said.
The Philadelphia Department of Public Health announced Pennsylvania’s first omicron case on Dec. 3.
The department said the case was in a man in his 30s from Northwest Philadelphia who had reported mild symptoms.
It was not clear at the time of the announcement if the man was vaccinated, and the department did not detail his recent travel history.
Gov. Dan McKee (D) and the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) announced the state’s first omicron case on Dec. 11.
The joint statement said the case was detected in an individual in their 20s who was fully vaccinated but did not have a booster shot.
The individual traveled to New York shortly before testing positive for the variant.
“We fully expected that Omicron would eventually be detected in Rhode Island as it has been in our neighboring states. I want to be clear: Rhode Island is prepared. This is not cause for panic,” McKee said.
The first two cases of the omicron variant in Tennessee were detected on Dec. 11, according to health officials in Shelby County.
The officials did not give any information about the cases, including the age, vaccination status or recent travel history of the infected individuals.
“We did expect the Omicron variant to appear in Tennessee, as it has in 19 other states. Shelby County has excellent COVID-19 testing capacity, with several local laboratories which perform viral DNA sequencing as a part of routine surveillance,” county Health Director Dr. Michelle Taylor said.
“For that reason, our laboratories were able to identify the tell-tale DNA signature of this new variant. These results indicate the variant may already be spreading in Shelby County and possibly elsewhere in the state,” Taylor added.
Texas reported its first omicron variant case on Dec. 6.
The Texas Department of State Health Services reported that a woman in her 40s tested positive for the new variant.
The woman has no recent history of travel and her vaccination status was not reported.
The omicron variant was also found in Houston’s wastewater, the Houston Health Department announced the night of Dec. 6. However, the city has yet to record any cases.
Utah confirmed its first omicron case on Dec. 3 in an older adult who lives within the Southwest Utah Public Health District.
The person had recently traveled from South Africa and was experiencing mild symptoms at the time of confirmation.
The resident was fully vaccinated and had a monoclonal antibody treatment. The state’s health department had already determined the person’s close contacts.
The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) announced the state’s first omicron case on Dec. 9.
The adult who was infected had domestic travel history during their exposure period for the variant, but had no international travel history.
The health department did not disclose the vaccination status of the individual.
“We have very effective vaccines that can interrupt the chain of transmission and reduce the odds that unpredictable mutations like the Delta and Omicron variants will emerge. Do your part. Get vaccinated if you are eligible. Get your booster shot if you’re eligible. Vaccination is how Virginia, the U.S. and the world will put this pandemic behind us,” State Health Commissioner M. Norman Oliver said.
The Washington Department of Health confirmed three cases of the omicron variant on Dec. 4 and said the variant had been detected in three separate counties.
It is unknown if the infected individuals were vaccinated. Officials added that the samples were collected between Nov. 29 and Dec. 1. The travel history of the three people is unknown.
Wisconsin confirmed the state’s first COVID-19 case of the new omicron variant on Dec. 4.
The omicron variant was detected in a fully vaccinated man who had been administered a booster shot as well. The man, who is a resident of Milwaukee County, had recently traveled to South Africa.
Health officials added that he was experiencing mild symptoms at the time of the confirmation.
— Updated Dec. 15 at 1:48 p.m.
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