Ever since the first cases of the Omicron variant were discovered in South Africa about a week ago, it’s been seen as inevitable that the variant would eventually arrive in the United States.
The first such case was reported Tuesday in California, in someone who had traveled from South Africa. Now, a second case has been confirmed, in Minnesota.
According to CNBC, the case was reported in a man who had recently traveled to New York City to an anime convention. The man, fully vaccinated, has since recovered. The California patient, the story said, is recovering now.
The diagnosis was confirmed by state health officials in Minnesota.
The governor of New York, Kathy Hochul, who has said that New York has had no confirmed Omicron cases as of Thursday, said that the anime convention in late November required vaccination.
“Everyone had to be vaccinated in order to participate in the first place,” the governor said. “That’s why we anticipate if people who test positive, at least, based on this first individual, that the symptoms will be fairly minor.”
The CDC said that both states are working with them on investigating the new case. As of Wednesday, the Omicron variant had reported cases in 23 countries around the world.
“We have more tools to fight the variant than we had at this time last year from vaccines to boosters to the prevention strategies that we know work including masking in indoor public settings, washing your hands frequently and physical distancing,” Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC, said in public comments Thursday. “These methods work to prevent the spread of COVID-19, no matter the genetic sequence.”
On Wednesday, the White House released the transcript of a background press call, in which an unnamed senior administration official discussed the administration’s Omicron response.
“While this new variant is a cause for concern, it is not a cause for panic. We have the tools we need to confront this variant, to keep making progress in our fight against the virus,” the official said, reiterating what the president had said before. “And we are using these tools to keep people safe, keep our schools open, and protect our economy.”
The official also urged Americans to get booster shots, if they are eligible.
How Joe Biden is Fighting Omicron
Thursday, the president announced a series of new measures for dealing with the virus this winter, which include boosters for all adults, vaccinations to “protect our kids and keep schools open,” expanding free at-home testing, improved public health protocols, protections in workplaces, expansion in the availability of treatment pills, and “steps to ensure we are prepared for all scenarios.”
“Today’s actions will ensure we are using these tools as effectively as possible to protect the American people against this variant and to continue to battle the Delta variant during the winter months when viruses tend to thrive,” the White House said.
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.