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N.Y. Detects Five Omicron Cases as Reports of Variant Expand

Kathy Hochul, governor of New York, speaks during a news conference in New York, U.S., on Monday, Sept 30, 2021. A Covid-19 vaccine mandate for health workers that went into effect this week is working to boost vaccination rates, providing a road map to other states that are trying to fight the highly transmissible delta variant. Hochul said this week.
By Bloomberg
03 Dec 2021 0

(Bloomberg) --New York state has identified at least five cases of the omicron variant, Governor Kathy Hochul said Thursday, with more infections expected as the new virus mutation circulates.

By Elaine Chen
Dec 3, 2021, 1:37 AM – Updated on Dec 3, 2021, 4:44 AM
Word Count: 561
Two cases were found in people based in Queens, one was in Brooklyn, and another was in Long Island’s Suffolk County, Hochul said at a briefing with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. The last case is suspected as a traveler who was in New York City.

“We know we now have cases here in New York City, we have to assume that means there’s community spread, we have to assume that means we’re going to see a lot more cases,” de Blasio said.

At least five U.S. states have reported omicron cases, with Hawaii joining New York late Thursday in saying the variant had been detected. It also has been found in California, Colorado and Minnesota, which said that a resident who had traveled to an anime convention at Manhattan’s Javits Center tested positive.

Los Angeles County, the nation’s most-populous, also reported its first case Thursday. The individual had recently returned from South Africa, where omicron was first detected.

It isn’t clear how the New York cases spread. The Suffolk County resident is a 67-year-old female who also had visited South Africa. She tested negative upon returning on Nov. 25 and then tested positive on Nov. 30.

De Blasio said the city’s testing and tracing teams have been working to determine who came into contact with the individual who had been at the Javits Center. But that just started Thursday, and sequencing of cases can take several days.

We have 5 cases of the #OmicronVariant in New York State. 2 are in Queens, 1 is in Brooklyn, 1 is in an unidentified borough, and 1 is in Suffolk County. All 5 cases appear to be mild.

This is not a time to panic. This is a time to get vaccinated, get boosted, and get tested.

— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) December 3, 2021
Hochul said the Suffolk County woman had mild symptoms of a headache and cough, and has some vaccination history. The vaccination statuses of the others are unknown.

“This is not a cause for major alarm,” Hochul said. “We do not have enough information, we’re not having shutdowns, we’re not changing our protocols.”

De Blasio said the city is taking measures including imposing a vaccine mandate on 56,000 private school employees, an addition to a requirement on 102,000 child care and early intervention workers announced earlier in the week.

New York state on Thursday reported 11,300 new Covid-19 cases, the most since January, and hospitals in some areas are near capacity. Hochul last week issued an executive order, which takes effect Friday, allowing state officials to limit non-essential hospital procedures in an effort to increase bed capacity and address staffing shortages.

The governor at the briefing again urged vaccinations, and said the arrival of the omicron variant has little comparison to March 2020, when New York City became an early Covid-19 epicenter.

“It is still a public-health crisis, but it does not have to be a crisis that leads to the shutdowns when we did not have information, when we did not have a vaccine and we did not have the tracing and tools at our disposal right now,” Hochul said.

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