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Coronavirus Watch

First Confirmed Omicron Variant Case from Minnesota

State of Minnesota becomes the second state with confirmed case Omicron variant. According a statement from the MN Department of Health and Human Services, a resident of Hennepin county who had traveled to New York City recently and had developed mild symptoms after his return late November was tested positive for the Omicron variant.

While this is clearly something to take seriously … it is not a reason for panic. The Minnesota man “most likely” contracted the variant in New York.

– Jan Malcolm, Minnesota Health Commissioner told reporters (source: MPR News)

Omicron discovery a ‘wake up call, if we needed another one, that this remains a global challenge that continues to evolve. Even though we may feel we’re done with the pandemic, it’s certainly not done with us’.

– Jan Malcolm, Minnesota Health Commissioner told reporters (source: MPR News)

Kris Ehresmann, infectious disease director for the Minnesota Department of Health, told reporter that “this case, you know, was getting ill even before we were hearing about omicron”.

According to Star Tribune, the omicron variant case in MN was was identified by genomic sequencing of samples from infected people identified the COVID-19 case.

First Omicron Case in US was from California

The first confirmed case of Omicron variant of Covid-19 in US was identified from California on Wednesday.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told at a White House briefing on Wednesday that “the case was in an individual who traveled from South Africa on November 22 — before travel restrictions were in place — and tested positive for Covid-19 on November 29”. The person was reportedly fully vaccinated but no booster shots and is reportedly experiencing “mild symptoms, which are improving at this point”.

During the White House press briefing, Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters “We do anticipate there will be more cases and we know that will be the case. And that’s why we’re focused on everything we can to fight the virus and the variant”.

Colorado Has Third Case of Omicron

According to the Washington Post, Colorado became the third state to announce a case of the omicron variant of the coronavirus, in a woman resident of Arapahoe County, who had recently traveled to southern Africa.

New York Has 5 Omicron Cases

The New York became the fifth US state to report 5 confirmed cases of Omicron variant, reports NPR News.

The following is summary of CNN’s town hall on coronavirus on Dec 1:

CNN Town hall with Dr Anthony Fauci on Omicron
  1. We don’t know much about Omicron yet: The world has a lot to learn about the new variant before any decision can be made on how to address it, Fauci said. The single Omicron case detected in the United States so far “doesn’t really tell you much at all,” he added. “It’s only a single person. You really can’t make a broad general statement or an extrapolation for what would go on with unvaccinated people or people who were boosted,” Fauci said. “So there’s a lot more to be learned.”
  2. Fauci says people should get vaccinated: Americans should not lose sight of the dangers of the Delta variant even as Omicron dominates headlines, Fauci said. “We still have 99.9% of the isolates are Delta, and we know what we can do with Delta,” he said. “We have, within our capability, to block it by getting the people who are unvaccinated vaccinated.” Americans should also take other precautions — including wearing masks — as colder weather settles on much of the country, Fauci added.
  3. It’s still safe to travel: Despite the emergence of Omicron, Americans can still travel safely, Fauci said. He added he would not suggest anything different from previous safety recommendations. “We just have a problem that’s identifiable now, and just as I said, and I’ll say it again, if you have a vaccinated situation, your family’s vaccinated, enjoy the holidays, indoor with your family in a family setting,” he said.
  4. Moderna president’s vaccine hopes: Dr. Stephen Hoge, president of Moderna, expressed hope the pharmaceutical company’s Covid-19 vaccine would deliver the “highest efficacy” against the Omicron variant. “Our hope, at least in Moderna, is that we’re going to continue to see the highest efficacy overall and continue to see the boosters push that even higher,” he said. However, he also acknowledged it is likely the current vaccines could be less effective against Omicron.
  5. It’s still not clear if people will need a yearly booster: It’s too early to tell whether people will need to receive a Covid-19 vaccine each year to protect against infection, Fauci said. “The honest answer is we don’t know what’s going to be required,” he said. “I hope we get a durability of protection from the boost that we won’t have to be chasing all the time against the new variant but that just remains to be seen.”

Source: Dec 2 CNN daily updates on the latest on the Omicron coronavirus variant.

Quoting a news release from the Colorado health department, the Post said “CDC is coordinating all travel-associated interstate and international contact tracing efforts and will work with airlines to identify all potentially exposed passengers.”

Coronavirus-19 vaccination watch

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID vaccination tracker page (as of Dec 2, 9 a.m.) 578,263,565 doses have been distributed and 464,445,580 doses administered. According MDH COVID-19 Response vaccine data (as of Nov 30) a total of 7,894,561 doses of Covid-19 (Pfizer & Moderna) vaccines have been administered in Minnesota. According to the MDH latest tally (as of Dec 2) the confirmed COVID-19 cases in Minnesota are 921,249 (out of 15,004,11840 tested) with 9,554 deaths.