A fully vaccinated Hennepin County resident who recently traveled to New York City contracted the new omicron coronavirus variant, Minnesota health officials announced Thursday.
The man completed his initial vaccine series over six months ago and received a booster shot in early November. He is the second known case of the variant found in the U.S. after the first was reported in California on Wednesday.
The person in Minnesota developed mild symptoms on Nov. 22 and sought COVID-19 testing on Nov. 24. His symptoms have since “resolved,” officials said.
The man had traveled to New York City to attend the Anime NYC 2021 convention at the Javits Center from Nov. 19-21.
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Under current New York City rules, everyone 12 and older are required to show proof of vaccination before entering the Javits Center and other indoor venues in the city.
The variant was found through the MDH variant surveillance program. Minnesota epidemiologists are working with New York City and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to investigate the case.
The World Health Organization has labeled omicron a “variant of concern.” MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm said during a Thursday morning news conference that “while this is clearly something to take seriously,” it is “not a reason for panic.”
Malcolm said scientists are still working to determine how the new variant compares with the delta variant in terms of transmissibility and disease severity, and how much the existing vaccines and therapies protect against omicron.
However, Malcolm stressed that getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself against all varients of COVID-19.
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The CDC recently strengthened its recommendation on booster doses for individuals who are 18 years and older following the emergence of the omicron variant.
“I strongly encourage the 47 million adults who are not yet vaccinated to get vaccinated as soon as possible and to vaccinate the children and teens in their families as well because strong immunity will likely prevent serious illness,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in a recent statement.
“I also want to encourage people to get a COVID-19 test if they are sick. Increased testing will help us identify Omicron quickly.”