More Omicron discovered in the US as hospital strains under virus attack


New York announced three more cases of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus on Saturday, bringing the number of cases associated with the new variant in the states to eight.

“The Omicron variant is here, and as expected, we are seeing the start of the spread in the community,” State Health Commissioner Mary Bassett said in a press release.

The number of states finding the variant is also growing, with Massachusetts, Connecticut and Washington announcing their first cases on Saturday, the day after New Jersey, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Maryland reported their first confirmed cases. Missouri reported its first suspected case on Friday.

The variant has also been detected in Nebraska, Minnesota, California, Hawaii, Colorado, and Utah.

In New York, seven of the cases were found in New York City, once a global epicenter of the pandemic, and the other in Suffolk County.

Omicron’s arrival comes as hospitals across the state continue to suffer from a surge in coronavirus cases, most of which are due to the Delta variant, along with staff shortages.

The number of people who tested positive for the virus every day across the country has doubled in the past 30 days.

Governor Kathy Hochul has in recent days empowered the Department of Health to limit non-essential, non-urgent procedures in hospitals where beds are becoming scarce and has deployed National Guard teams to relieve health care workers in facilities dealing with staffing issues and dealing with increasing case numbers.

Fifteen members of the National Guard arrived at Monroe Community Hospital in Rochester on Saturday, the WROC reported. Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin said Wednesday the state will be sending 13 National Guard teams to the western borough of New York, where borough chief Adam Bello has declared a state of emergency.

The Omicron cases in New York seem to have nothing to do with each other so far, Hochul said. One of the known cases involved a Minnesota man who was among 50,000 people who attended a three-day anime festival in New York City in November. Authorities have urged everyone attending the conference to get tested for COVID-19 and wear a mask in public.

Much is still unknown about Omicron, including whether it is more contagious as some health officials suggest, whether it can thwart vaccines, and whether it makes people as sick as the original strain.

A Massachusetts woman in her twenties who traveled from the state is the first known case of the variant discovered in her state, the Department of Health said on Saturday. The unidentified woman – a Middlesex County resident – is fully vaccinated and has mild symptoms.

A woman who recently traveled from South Africa became the first confirmed case in both New Jersey and Georgia after being treated in an emergency room for moderate symptoms. The fully vaccinated Georgia resident spent two days in her home state between her arrival from South Africa and her onward journey to New Jersey, health officials in both states said.

The first three cases of the Omicron variant in Maryland were found in the metropolitan area of ​​Baltimore and involve two people from the same household, authorities said. One of the two is a vaccinated person who recently traveled to South Africa. The third case, identified in a vaccinated person with no recent travel history, is unrelated.

In Pennsylvania, a man in his thirties from Philadelphia was the state’s first case. The Philadelphia Department of Health did not immediately reveal whether the man was vaccinated against COVID-19 or whether he was traveling.

The allegedly first Missouri case, of someone who recently traveled within the United States, according to state health officials, did not provide additional details about the St. Louis resident. The St. Louis Department of Health said it was awaiting approval from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The number of cases in California, Nebraska and Colorado rose on Friday.

Five cases in Northern California were linked to a Wisconsin wedding late last month, public health officials said. One of the people had recently returned from international travel, according to the Alameda County Department of Health.

Health officials confirmed six new cases of the variant in southeastern Nebraska. State health officials said the state’s first case likely came from one of the six who recently traveled to Nigeria and returned on Nov. 23.

Colorado discovered the state’s second case of the state’s Omicron variant just a day after the state’s first confirmed case, officials said Friday.

“We knew that the Omicron variant was coming and we expect more cases. But let me be clear: we are not defenseless,” said Hochul. “We have the tools to prevent this deadly virus from spreading: get your vaccine, get your booster, and wear your mask.”