Minnesota health officials said Thursday that a person living in the state has been infected with the Omicron variant of the coronavirus. The man, who officials said recently traveled to New York, represents the second known case of this variant in the United States.
Minnesota officials said the discovery was not surprising and expressed appreciation for its discovery in reliable disease surveillance systems.
“This news is worrying but not a surprise,” Gov. Tim Waltz said in a statement. “We know this virus is highly contagious and is spreading rapidly around the world. Minnesotans know what to do to keep each other safe — get a vaccine, get tested, wear a mask indoors, and get a booster shot. ”
Much remains unknown about Omicron, including whether it is more transmissible and can cause more serious diseases. There is some evidence that this variant can more easily re-infect people.
According to the Minnesota Department of Health, the man is a resident of Hennepin County, which includes Minneapolis. The department reported that he had been vaccinated and that he no longer feels symptoms.
According to the department, the man first developed mild symptoms on November 22, shortly after traveling to New York for Anime NYC 2021 at the Javits Center. The ad does not indicate whether the person has recently traveled anywhere else.
On November 24, he was tested for the virus. The state public health lab determined that he had the Omicron variant. Minnesota officials said they are working with New York and federal health officials to investigate the case, and that the man has spoken to investigators.
California health officials announced Wednesday that a San Francisco resident had contracted the Omicron variant – a discovery they highlighted was imminent as they worked to contain alarm about the variant being discovered in the United States.
Since the Omicron variant was first discovered, experts have said it is only a matter of time before that variant makes its way to the United States, and that once a case is discovered, many more are likely to be discovered soon.
“I’m personally surprised that the first case took so long,” Dr. Bob Wachter, professor and chair of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, said Wednesday. “Today is California, tomorrow there will be several other states.”