The Omicron COVID-19 variant has been found in at least nine states across the country.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the new strain has been identified in more than a dozen people after the first U.S. case was found in California earlier this week. Some of the people who have contracted the Omicron variant recently traveled to South Africa, where it was first discovered by researchers.
A second case was reported in California on Thursday (Dec. 2) by someone in Los Angeles who recently traveled to South Africa. Additionally, Nebraska, Maryland, Missouri, New York, Minnesota, Colorado, Hawaii and Pennsylvania have announced Omicron cases.
As REVOLT previously reported, the Omicron variant likely spread throughout Europe before it was discovered in South Africa last month. The World Health Organization (WHO) characterized Omicron as a “variant of concern.” The group also stated that the variant posed a “very high” global risk and may be more contagious than the Delta variant.
Researchers are working to figure out how sick the new variant makes people, how transmissible it is and how well the vaccine and booster shots work against it. Until more information is determined, health officials are urging everyone over the age of five to get the vaccine and booster shots. Other measures, such as wearing a mask, handwashing, ventilation and social distancing, will also work to fight the spread of the new Omicron variant.
President Joe Biden has already restricted travel to certain countries to slow the spread of the new strain, but he will not reimpose lockdown policies, telling reporters that “if people are vaccinated and wear their masks, there’s no need for the lockdown.” On Thursday, the president announced stricter COVID-19 testing protocols for international travelers. They will now have to get a COVID test within one day of their departure, whether they are vaccinated or not.