A COVID-19 test facility will be advertised at Newark Liberty International Airport on November 30, 2021 in Newark, New Jersey.
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More than 20 people in at least 12 US states have tested positive for the Omicron variant of the virus that causes Covid-19. The patients differ in age, vaccination status and travel history, but none of them has developed a serious illness.
While some patients had recently traveled to southern Africa, where the variant was first discovered, others had no travel history, suggesting that community transmission is ongoing in the US
“We absolutely have a fellowship in this country,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci across from Bloomberg Television on Friday. “We don’t know how many of them, but there is no doubt that it is spreading in the community.”
Scientists and public health officials are still collecting data on whether Omicron is more transmissible, better evades immune protection from vaccines, and / or causes more serious illness than other variants.
Those who tested positive in the US all had mild to moderate symptoms, and none of the patients have been hospitalized to date, according to the latest information from state health officials. However, mild Covid cases can develop into a more severe illness over time.
Many of the people who tested positive in the United States were fully vaccinated. At least two of the immunized patients had not yet received a booster dose, but another person had received their extra dose. And in at least one case, a person who had previously recovered from Covid tested positive for Omicron.
While the handful of cases in the US don’t provide definitive answers on Omicron, the World Health Organization said Friday that early data suggests the virus is more contagious. And South African scientists published a study, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, which found that Omicron had a higher risk of re-infecting people who were previously infected with Covid than previous variants.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 vaccinations still protect against serious illnesses of the variant, US health officials said. Fauci said Friday during a Covid briefing at the White House that laboratory studies suggest that booster syringes increase antibody protection against a number of variants.
“There is every reason to believe that if you are vaccinated and boosted you will have at least some cross-protection,” said Fauci, “very likely against serious illnesses, even the Omicron variant.”
California on Wednesday confirmed the first U.S. case of Omicron in a person who recently returned to the San Francisco area from South Africa. The person was between 18 and 49 years old, fully vaccinated and, according to Governor Gavin Newsom, was not yet eligible for a booster vaccination. The person showed mild symptoms and is expected to make a full recovery, Newsom said on Wednesday.
“The evidence that a person with omicrons identified by sequencing actually has mild symptoms is improving, which I believe is evidence of the importance of the vaccinations,” said Dr. Mark Ghaly, California Secretary of Health and Welfare.
California confirmed a second Omicron case in the Los Angeles area on Thursday. This adult was also fully vaccinated and had recently returned from South Africa via London, according to the city’s health department. The person’s symptoms improve without medical attention, officials said.
“This infection is most likely travel-related,” said the The Los Angeles County Health Department said. The department did not disclose the person’s age or booster status at the request of CNBC on Friday, citing privacy concerns.
On Thursday morning, Colorado confirmed a case of Omicron in a fully vaccinated adult woman who had not received a booster. Like the first case in California, the woman had a recent travel history to southern Africa, where the variant was first detected. She has mild symptoms and is recovering at home according to the Colorado Health Department.
Governor Jared Polis told residents during a news conference Thursday that health officials believe the prevalence in the Colorado community is currently low. Health officials have yet to discover an Omicron through wastewater analysis, and they have yet to discover a second case through genetic sequencing.
“So if it were widespread, we would know – it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist,” Polis said.
Hawaii confirmed a case in Oahu on Thursday in a person who was previously infected with Covid, had never been vaccinated and had no travel history. according to the state health office. The person was said to show moderate symptoms.
“This is a case of community dissemination,” the department said in a press release.
Maryland confirmed Friday that three people from the greater Baltimore area tested positive for Omicron. Two of the people come from the same household, a vaccinated person who recently traveled to South Africa and a close contact with this unvaccinated person. The third case involved a vaccinated person who, according to state officials, had no known recent travel history.
“None of the three people will be hospitalized,” said Governor Larry Hogan in a press release.
The Massachusetts Department of Health announced the state’s first Omicron coronavirus case on Saturday.
The infected person is a 20-year-old woman who left the state. Officials said she was fully vaccinated, suffered from a mild illness and did not need to be hospitalized.
In Minnesota, public health officials on Thursday confirmed an Omicron case in an adult man who was fully vaccinated and had recently returned from an anime conference at the Javits Center in New York City. His symptoms were mild and have since subsided. according to the state health office.
The Minnesota resident received a booster vaccination prior to attending the New York convention, Minnesota public health spokesman Doug Schultz told CNBC on Friday.
A St. Louis resident with recent domestic travel history is likely to be positive for Omicron, the Missouri State Health Department said Friday. The sample has been sequenced by a commercial laboratory pending confirmation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Missouri State Health Department did not provide any information about the person’s age, vaccination history, or symptoms. Spokeswoman Lisa Cox told CNBC on Saturday that the state currently has no further information.
Nebraska confirmed six Omicron cases on Friday in a chain of transmission that apparently began with a person who recently traveled to Nigeria. The other five people were likely exposed through household contact with the person who had traveled to Africa, according to the state health ministry. Only one of the six people was vaccinated, but none of them went to the hospital.
The New Jersey Department of Health has confirmed a case of Omicron in a Georgia traveler who was recently in South Africa. The adult woman, who is fully vaccinated, had moderate symptoms and is now recovering after receiving treatment in an emergency room in northern New Jersey, according to state health officials.
New York has identified a total of eight cases of the Omicron variant.
On Saturday morning, the virus was confirmed in a total of seven residents from New York City and one from Suffolk County.
New York City Health Commissioner Dave Chokshi announced Thursday that the cases suggest there is community expansion in the state.
“These are not just people traveling to southern Africa or other parts of the world where Omicron has already been identified,” Chokshi said.
A man in his thirties from northwest Philadelphia tested positive for Omicron, city officials confirmed Friday. The Philadelphia Health Department said it was working to get more information on the case.
Utah confirmed its first case of the Omicron variant, public health officials confirmed Friday.
Officials said the person who tested positive was an older adult who recently returned to Utah after a trip to South Africa.
The person is fully vaccinated and showed only mild symptoms. They received monoclonal antibody treatment.
– CNBC’s Jessica Bursztynsky contributed to this report.