Omicron variant surfaces in Minnesota

Published 10:01 am Thursday, December 2, 2021

By Brian Bakst, Minnesota Public Radio News

State health authorities are expected to brief reporters on the situation at 11 a.m.

State public health leaders on Thursday confirmed the new omicron COVID-19 variant, identified Wednesday in California, is now in Minnesota.

The variant was discovered in a Hennepin County resident who’d traveled recently to New York City, the Minnesota Health Department said in a statement.

The agency said the person was an adult man who had been vaccinated against COVID. He developed mild symptoms on Nov. 22 and sought testing. He told investigators he’d attended the Anime NYC 2021 convention at the Javits Center from Nov. 19-21, MDH said.

The omicron news comes as the state’s key COVID metrics appeared to be slowly improving after a massive surge in cases that began in late summer and has pushed into the fall.

Officials remain concerned about a possible COVID bounce from the Thanksgiving holiday that brought many people together indoors for celebrations, the kind of conditions that lead to more viral spread. Hospitalizations and intensive care needs remain high.

Minnesota remains “firmly in the grip of the delta wave,” Jan Malcolm, the state’s health commissioner, said Wednesday, referring to the highly contagious delta variant of COVID that’s driven the fall surge.

She implored Minnesotans to get vaccinated and stay vigilant against the disease. “We don’t want to give this virus any more opportunities to infect us and evade our protection,” she said.