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Omicron coronavirus variant found in multiple US states

NEW YORK (AP) — The omicron variant of COVID-19, which had been undetected in the U.S. before the middle of this week, had been discovered in at least five states by the end of Thursday, showing yet again how mutations of the virus can circumnavigate the globe with speed and ease.

Just a day after the first known U.S. case was found in California, tests showed the omicron variant had infected at least five people in the New York City metropolitan area, plus a man from Minnesota who had attended an anime convention in Manhattan in late November.

A Colorado woman who had recently traveled to southern Africa, a Hawaii resident with no recent travel history, and another California resident who traveled to South Africa last month also were infected by the variant, officials said.

Much remains unknown about omicron, including whether it is more contagious, as some health authorities suspect, whether it can thwart vaccines and whether it makes people as sick as the original strain.

Health officials in each state said there was no cause for undue alarm. But the spread of the cases, some involving people who hadn’t been away from home recently, meant the variant was likely already circulating domestically in some parts of the U.S.

Omicron is classified by the World Health Organization as a “variant of concern” as scientists work to determine how it may compare with the predominant delta variant in terms of transmissibility and severity. Scientists also are studying the degree to which existing vaccines and therapies protect against omicron.

Scientists in South Africa first reported it, but the samples came from several countries in southern Africa. And health officials in the Netherlands now say it was found there prior to the South Africa detection.

AP News

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Cole Johnson

Cole grew up in a small town of just over 3,000 people called Moravia, NY—home of President Millard Fillmore and Fillmore Glen State Park.

He is eager to wake up every morning with the Desert Southwest and give viewers the greatest coverage to start their day.

Contact Cole at cole.johnson@kecytv.com.

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