Experts say six more US states confirmed infections with the Omicron variant of COVID-19 on Friday but the Delta strain could remain a bigger threat as winter sets in and Americans gather for the holidays. break, experts said.
New Jersey, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, Pennsylvania and Utah each reported their first cases of the Omicron variant on Friday. Missouri is waiting for CDC confirmation of a case involving a St. Louis, who recently traveled within the United States.
Scientists are still investigating the effects of the highly contagious variant of Omicron, which was first discovered in South Africa. Early evidence suggests it may cause milder illness than its predecessors, including Delta.
The outbreak of Omicron caused a stir around the world and prompted political leaders to impose new COVID-19 restrictions. Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), spoke during a White House briefing, but the US’s dominant strain remains Delta.
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Utah’s case was discovered through continuous genetic sequencing of positive COVID-19 samples at the state lab, the state’s health department said on Twitter.
Nebraska has had six confirmed cases, the state’s health department said. Only one out of six people have been immunized and no one needs to be hospitalized with COVID-19, the department added.
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan announced the first three cases of the Omicron variant in his state, adding that none of the three required hospitalization. And in Pennsylvania, a Philadelphia man in his 30s tested positive for Omicron, city health officials said.
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New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said the state’s first case of Omicron was found in a fully vaccinated woman who recently traveled to Georgia.
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Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, told MSNBC that the rise in infections could put further strain on US hospitals already struggling with caseloads. high and tired staff.
“I am very worried about our healthcare system over the next few weeks and months. I don’t know how much more it can handle,” he said, calling for reinforcements from the National Guard and other contingency plans to support doctors and nurses.
Former FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said states with higher vaccination rates are likely to be better protected against Omicron, adding that unvaccinated people who survive Delta may see potential Their immunity was not protected against the new variant.
“The risk for the future is that countries are relying heavily on Delta infections to provide immunity to their populations… they may be more susceptible to this new variant,” said Gottlieb, now a member of the group. vaccine maker Pfizer’s board, told CNBC.
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Omicron has been detected in about 40 countries, including the United States, where it is also found in California, Colorado, Hawaii, Minnesota and New York.
The CDC says it is investigating possible cases of the Omicron variant in other US states.
(Reporting by Caitlin Webber, Dan Whitcomb and Susan Heavey; additional reporting by Barbara Goldberg; editing by Tim Ahmann, Aurora Ellis and Rosalba O’Brien)
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