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What We Know About Omicron Cases in the USA

A COVID-19 Testing Center is advertised at Newark Liberty International Airport on November 30, 2021 in Newark, NJ.

Spencer Platt | Getty Images

More than 20 people in 10 US states have tested positive for the omicron variant of the virus that causes Covid-19. Patients vary in age, vaccination status, and travel history, but none of them have developed a serious illness so far.

While some patients recently traveled to southern Africa, where the variant was first discovered, others had no travel history, indicating that transmission in the United States continues.

“We have an absolutely wide community in this country,” Dr. Anthony Fauci told Bloomberg on Friday. “We don’t know how many of them, but there is no doubt that the community is widespread.”

Scientists and public health officials are still collecting data on whether omicron is more transmissive, better evades immunity from vaccines, and / or causes more severe disease than other options.

Those who tested positive in the United States all had mild to moderate symptoms and, according to the latest information from state health departments, none of the patients have yet been hospitalized. However, mild cases of Covid can progress to more severe illness over time.

Many people who test positive in the United States have been fully vaccinated. At least two of the immunized patients have not yet received the booster dose, but another person has received an additional dose. And in at least one case, a person who had previously recovered from Covid tested positive for omicron.

While several cases in the US do not provide definitive answers about the omicron, the World Health Organization said Friday that early evidence suggests the virus is more contagious. South African scientists have published a study that has not yet been peer-reviewed, according to which omicron carries a higher risk of reinfection in people who have previously contracted Covid than previous variants.

Although some of the people who tested positive for omicron were fully vaccinated, the fact that they developed mild symptoms suggests that the shots still offer protection against severe illness caused by the option, US health officials said. Fauci said during a White House briefing on Covid on Friday that laboratory studies show booster shots increase antibody protection against a range of variants.

“There is every reason to believe that if you get vaccinated and boosted, you will have at least some degree of cross-protection,” Fauci said, “very likely against serious illness, even against the omicron variant.”

California

Minnesota

Colorado

On Thursday morning, Colorado confirmed a case of omicron in a fully vaccinated adult woman who had not received a booster shot. The woman, like the first patient in California, recently had a history of travel to southern Africa, where the variant was first discovered. She has minor symptoms and is recovering at home. according to the Colorado Department of Health.

Gov. Jared Polis told residents during a press conference Thursday that health officials believe the spread of infection among the population in Colorado is currently low. Health officials have yet to find the omicron in wastewater analysis, and they have yet to find a second case with genetic sequencing.

“So, if it was widespread, we would know – it does not mean that it does not exist,” said Polis.

Hawaii

Hawaii confirmed a case in Oahu Thursday in a man who was previously infected with Covid, never vaccinated, and had no travel history. according to the State Department of Health. It states that the person exhibits mild symptoms.

“This is a case of community proliferation,” the department said in a statement.

Nebraska

Nebraska confirmed six cases of omicron infections Friday in a chain of transmission that appears to have started with a person who recently traveled to Nigeria. According to the State Department of Health, the other five people were likely infected through domestic contact with a person who was traveling to Africa. Only one in six people was vaccinated, but none of them required hospitalization.

Maryland

Maryland confirmed Friday that three people from the Baltimore metro area tested positive for the omicron. Two of them are from the same family: a vaccinated person who recently traveled to South Africa, and close contact with this person who was not vaccinated. The third case, according to government officials, involved a vaccinated person with no known recent travel.

“None of the three people are hospitalized,” Gov. Larry Hogan said in a press release.

Pennsylvania

City officials confirmed Friday that a man in his 30s from northwest Philadelphia tested positive for the omicron. The Philadelphia Department of Health said it is working to get more information on the case.

Missouri

The Missouri Department of Health said Friday that a St. Louis resident who recently traveled around the country is considered positive for the omicron. The sample has been sequenced in a commercial laboratory and is awaiting confirmation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Missouri Department of Health did not provide information on the person’s age, vaccination history, or symptoms. CNBC has reached out to state health authorities for more information.

New Jersey

The New Jersey Department of Health has confirmed a case of omicron in a Georgia traveler who was recently in South Africa. The fully vaccinated adult woman who has experienced mild symptoms is now recovering after receiving help from an emergency department in northern New Jersey, according to state health officials.

New York

Five cases of the omicron variant were identified in New York Thursday night, but details are scarce.

The 67-year-old woman from Suffolk County tested positive after a recent trip to South Africa, Gov. Katie Hochul said. The patient had some vaccination history, but it is unclear if she was fully immunized or received a booster shot. The woman developed mild symptoms including headache and cough.

Two people also tested positive in the Queens borough of New York City, and another person tested positive in Brooklyn, but their vaccination history was unknown as of Thursday evening. Another traveler to the city reportedly tested positive, although the governor did not provide any further information.

CNBC has asked the New York City Department of Health for more information on the vaccination status and symptoms of people who have tested positive for omicron.

New York City Health Commissioner Dave Chokshi told the public Thursday that the cases indicate there is a spread among local residents in the state.

“These are not just people who travel to southern Africa or other parts of the world where the omicron has already been identified,” Chokshi said.


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