UPDATED 12/2, 5:45 p.m. ET: The COVID-19 omicron variant has been discovered in Colorado, KDVR reports. It becomes the third state with a confirmed case of the new variant.
The woman who tested positive recently returned from southern Africa, and was fully vaccinated.
“This was expected news that any variant that is so prevalent in the world as the omicron variant is, we knew it wasn’t a matter of if, it was a matter of when it was identified in Colorado,” the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said in a statement.
UPDATED 12/2, 11:20 a.m. ET: A case of the omicron variant has been detected in a Minnesota resident who recently traveled to New York City, the Minnesota Department of Health announced.
Per ABC 7, the patient is vaccinated and lives in Hennepin County. He is said to have attended the Anime NYC 2021 convention at the Javits Center over the weekend, an event with an estimated attendance of 53,000 people.
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio shared a statement on the case. “I continue to urge all New Yorkers to get vaccinated, wear a face mask while indoors and in public, and help beat this virus once and for all,” he said.
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According to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the patient traveled from South Africa back to the United States on Nov. 22, and tested positive for the variant on Monday, Nov. 29.
“This is the first case of COVID-19 caused by the Omicron variant detected in the United States,” Dr. Fauci said at the White House. He went on to explain that the individual is now self-quarantining and anyone who was near them has tested negative so far.
“The individual is self quarantining and all close contacts have been contacted and all close contacts, thus far, have tested negative,” he explained. “We feel good that this patient not only had mild symptoms, but actually the symptoms appear to be improving.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have begun tightening travel rules in and out of the country, mandating travelers take a COVID test within a day of returning to the United States. While officials hope these measures will help them detect the threat of the new variant, Fauci and many other health officials believe this is just delaying the inevitable.
“We knew that it was just a matter of time before the first case of Omicron would be detected in the United States,” Dr. Fauci said.
As of Wednesday, Dec. 1, the country with the highest number of confirmed cases of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 is South Africa with 77. The next is the United Kingdom with 22.