More Omicron Detected, Hospitals Strain12/05 08:48
(AP) -- New York announced three more cases of the omicron variant of the
coronavirus Saturday, bringing the number of state cases linked to the new
variant to eight.
"The omicron variant is here, and as anticipated we are seeing the beginning
of community spread," state Health Commissioner Mary Bassett said in a news
The number of states finding the variant is growing as well, with
Massachusetts, Connecticut and Washington state announcing their first cases
Saturday, a day after New Jersey, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Maryland reported
their first confirmed cases. Missouri reported its first presumed case Friday.
The variant also has been detected in Nebraska, Minnesota, California,
Hawaii, Colorado and Utah.
In New York, seven of the cases have been found in New York City, once a
global epicenter of the pandemic, and the other in Suffolk County.
The arrival of omicron comes as hospitals statewide continue to strain under
a surge in coronavirus cases, most traced to the delta variant, along with
The number of people testing positive statewide each day for the virus has
doubled in the last 30 days.
Gov. Kathy Hochul in recent days has authorized the Health Department to
limit nonessential, non-urgent procedures at hospitals close to running out of
beds and deployed National Guard teams to relieve healthcare workers at
facilities dealing with staffing issues and surging caseloads.
Fifteen members of the National Guard arrived at Monroe Community Hospital
in Rochester on Saturday, WROC reported. Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin said Wednesday
the state would send 13 National Guard teams to the western New York county,
where County Executive Adam Bello has declared a state of emergency.
New York's omicron cases so far appear to be unrelated, Hochul said. One of
the known cases involved a man from Minnesota who was among 50,000 people who
attended a three-day anime festival in New York City in November. Authorities
have urged anyone who attended the conference to get tested for COVID-19 and
wear a mask in public.
Much remains unknown about omicron, including whether it is more contagious,
as some health authorities suspect, whether it can thwart vaccines and whether
it makes people as sick as the original strain.
Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont on Saturday reported his state's first confirmed
case of the variant, saying it may also be linked to the New York City anime
convention. The case involves a vaccinated Hartford-area man in his 60s who has
a family member who attended the convention. The family member, who is also
vaccinated, developed symptoms that have since resolved, Lamont's office said.
In Washington state, three cases of the omicron variant were confirmed
Saturday -- one each in Thurston, Pierce and King counties, state health
officials said. They noted the investigation is still early, and details were
not yet known on the travel histories of the patients, two men and a woman who
range from 20 to 39 years old.
A Massachusetts woman in her 20s who had traveled out of state is the first
known case of the variant detected in her state, the Department of Public
Health announced Saturday. The unidentified woman -- a resident of Middlesex
County -- is fully vaccinated and has experienced mild symptoms.
A woman who recently traveled from South Africa became both New Jersey and
Georgia's first confirmed case after seeking care for moderate symptoms at an
emergency room. The fully vaccinated Georgia resident was in her home state for
two days between arriving from South Africa and traveling onward to New Jersey,
health officials in both states said.
Maryland's first three cases of the omicron variant were found in the
Baltimore metropolitan region and include two people from the same household,
authorities said. One of the two is a vaccinated person who recently traveled
to South Africa. The third case, detected in a vaccinated person with no recent
travel history, is unrelated.
In Pennsylvania, a man in his 30s from Philadelphia became that state's
first case. The Philadelphia Department of Public Health did not immediately
say whether the man was vaccinated against COVID-19 or if he had been traveling.
Missouri's presumed first case involves someone who recently traveled within
the U.S., according to state health officials, who did not provide additional
details about the St. Louis resident. The St. Louis Health Department said it
was awaiting confirmation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Case counts in California, Nebraska and Colorado grew Friday.
Five cases in Northern California were linked to a wedding in Wisconsin late
last month, public health officials said. One of the individuals had recently
returned from traveling internationally, according to the Alameda County
Department of Public Health.
Health officials confirmed six new cases of the variant in southeastern
Nebraska. State health officials said the state's first case likely stemmed
from one of the six who recently traveled to Nigeria and returned on Nov. 23.
Colorado detected the state's second case of the omicron variant just a day
after the state's first confirmed case, officials said Friday.
"We knew the omicron variant was coming and we expect to see more cases. But
let me be clear: We are not defenseless," Hochul said. "We have the tools to
help prevent the spread of this deadly virus: Get your vaccine, get your
booster, and wear your mask."
Meanwhile, 10 people aboard a Norwegian Cruise Line ship approaching New
Orleans have tested positive for COVID-19, officials said Saturday night. The
Norwegian Breakaway departed the city Nov. 28 and was due to return this
weekend after making stops in Belize, Honduras and Mexico in recent days,
Louisiana's health agency said. More than 3,200 people are on board. Officials
did not immediately say whether the passengers had been tested for virus