COVID IN MN: Omicron variant discovered in vaccinated Minnesotan traveling to NYC Anime Convention

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The Minnesota Department of Health has confirmed that the COVID-19 Omicron variant has been discovered for the first time in the state. This is the second confirmed case of the variant in the country.

On Thursday, MDH said its Public Health Laboratory found the variant in a sample from a Minnesota resident who recently traveled to New York City. The person is a man living in Hennepin County who had been vaccinated.

READ MORE: More federal aid is coming to Minnesota hospitals, Walz says

He said he traveled to New York City and attended the Anime NYC 2021 convention at the Javits Center from November 19-21. He developed “mild symptoms” the day after the event and applied for tests on November 24. solved.

Disguised people attend Anime NYC at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City on November 20, 2021. – Anime NYC is an annual three-day anime convention held in New York City. (Credit: KENA BETANCUR / AFP via Getty Images)

New York Governor Kathy Hochul spoke Thursday, urging everyone who attended the Anime Conference to be tested. She says the state has a list of all participants and can contact them. There have not yet been confirmed cases in New York.

In a press conference following the announcement, Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said Minnesotan, which tested positive for the Omicron variant, was vaccinated more than six months ago and had received a booster shot in early November.

He has been advised to isolate himself from others.

Malcolm said the new find in Minnesota underscores the importance of limiting the spread of COVID-19.

“We still have more to learn about Omicron, but the most important thing we can do right now is to use the tools we have at our disposal to make it as difficult as possible for this virus to spread,” Malcolm said. “In addition to vaccination and boosters, we can curb the spread of this variant and all COVID-19 variants by using the proven prevention methods of wearing masks, staying home when sick and being tested when appropriate.”

Government officials say the variant case was found through MDH’s variant monitoring program.

“Since the beginning of this pandemic, Minnesota’s nationwide genome sequencing infrastructure and strong test networks have enabled the state to quickly track the COVID-19 virus and better understand its spread. Today, these tools detected a case of the Omicron variant in Minnesota,” he said. Governor Tim Walz. “This news is worrying, but it is not a surprise. We know that this virus is highly contagious and moves rapidly around the world. Minnesota residents know what to do to keep each other safe now – get the vaccine, get tested, wear a mask indoors, and get a booster. Together, we can fight this virus and help keep Minnesota residents safe. “

READ MORE: ‘Potentially a tendency for things to get worse’: Omicron variant discovered in US

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a statement on the confirmed case in Minnesota, saying they work with both MDH and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

“The CDC has actively monitored and prepared this variant,” said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky. “We have worked closely with the Minnesota Department of Health and will continue to work diligently with other U.S. and global public health and industry partners as we learn more. The CDC has expanded its capacity for genomic sequencing over the past nine months, and we have more tools to combat the variant than we had at this point last year from vaccines to boosters to the prevention strategies that we know work, including masking in an indoor public environment, washing your hands often and physical distance.These methods work to prevent the spread of COVID-19, regardless of the genetic sequence. “

The news comes a day after federal officials confirmed the first case of the variant discovered in the United States, in California.

The Omicron variant, first discovered in South Africa, appears in the middle of the busy holiday travel season. According to the AAA car club, over 53 million Americans were estimated to have traveled for the Thanksgiving holiday, an increase from last year.

Daily number updates: 72 additional deaths

When health officials held a press conference late Thursday morning, the health department updated the numbers for the COVID-19 pandemic.

MDH reported 5,313 additional COVID-19 cases and 72 additional deaths. All 72 deaths occurred in November and included a resident of Steele County in his 20s and a resident of St. Louis. Louis County in the 30s.

Since the pandemic began, 9,554 deaths have been attributed to the virus, and over 921,000 cases have been recorded – including reinfections.

On Wednesday, there were 1,204 patients with the virus who needed non-ICU beds – another 345 patients are in ICU beds. Nearly 46,500 people have been hospitalized because of the virus.

As the number of daily deaths remains a concern, the positivity of the state is on a downward trend. It is at 10.1% last week, which is just above the high-risk limit. That is a drop from 11% recorded in mid-November.

For vaccines, 7.8 million doses have been administered in the state, including 1.1 million booster shots. Just over 70% of those 5 years and older have received at least one dose of vaccine.

MORE NEWS: Gov. Walz secures federal support to expand antibody treatment and vaccination capacity

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