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Minnesota confirms an omicron case in a resident who traveled from New York City

Travelers wear masks at LaGuardia International Airport on Tuesday in New York, New York as concern grows worldwide over omicron, the newest COVID-19 variant. Minnesota confirmed the second U.S. omicron case on Thursday.
Image credit: Robyn Beck


Updated December 2, 2021 at 2:37 PM ET

Minnesota officials say they have identified an omicron COVID-19 case in the state, marking the second confirmed case of the highly transmissible variant in the U.S. in as many days.

Lab testing identified the case in a Hennepin County resident who had recently returned from New York City, the Minnesota Department of Health announced on Thursday.

“This news is concerning, but it is not a surprise,” Gov. Tim Walz said in a statement. “We know that this virus is highly infectious and moves quickly throughout the world. Minnesotans know what to do to keep each other safe now — get the vaccine, get tested, wear a mask indoors, and get a booster.”

Officials said the individual is an adult male who had been vaccinated and took a COVID-19 test on Nov. 24 after developing mild symptoms (which have since resolved) on Nov. 22.

The individual reported traveling to New York City and attending the Anime NYC 2021 convention at the Javits Center from Nov. 19-21, officials said, adding that Minnesota epidemiologists will continue investigating the case in collaboration with New York City and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement of his own that the convention had mandated all attendees be vaccinated, and also required masks.

“We should assume there is community spread of the variant in our city,” de Blasio said, adding that local officials are working closely with event organizers, the state and CDC.

Both he and New York Gov. Kathy Hochul encouraged people who were at the Javits Center on the days of the convention to get tested.

Hochul said at a briefing that while there are currently no confirmed cases in New York, officials have been bracing for the variant to make its way to the state and are prepared for the likelihood that someone will test positive soon.

She urged New Yorkers to get vaccinated and boosted, stressing that “we are not defenseless against this variant.”

Minnesota health department officials said that their surveillance program is one of the strongest in the nation, making it likely that Minnesota would be among the first states to find the variant.

Minnesota Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm said the discovery further underscores the importance of taking steps to limit the spread of COVID-19 in the state. Those include getting vaccinated and boosted if eligible, wearing well-fitting masks in indoor public settings and crowded outdoor settings, getting tested if you have symptoms or have been exposed to COVID-19 and frequent handwashing.

Minnesota’s announcement comes a day after California reported the first omicron case in the U.S., in an individual who had recently returned from South Africa.


This story originally appeared on the Morning Edition live blog.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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