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More Omicron Variant Cases Found in U.S. As Hospitals Feel Extra Strain Under Winter Surge

More Omicron Variant Cases Found in U.S. As Hospitals Feel Extra Strain Under Winter Surge

Much remains unknown about the new and increasingly widespread Omicron Variant, 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. The arrival of Omicron comes as hospitals statewide continue to strain under a surge in coronavirus cases, most traced to the delta variant, along with staffing shortages.

New York State announced three more cases of the omicron variant of the coronavirus Saturday, bringing the number of state cases linked to the new variant to eight. Seven of the cases have been found in New York City, once a global epicenter of the pandemic, and the other in Suffolk County. The number of people testing positive statewide each day for the virus has doubled in the last 30 days. “The Omicron variant is here, and as anticipated we are seeing the beginning of community spread,” state Health Commissioner Mary Bassett said in a news release. Gov. Kathy Hochul in recent days has authorized the Health Department to limit nonessential, non-urgent procedures at hospitals close to running out of beds and deployed National Guard teams to relieve healthcare workers at facilities dealing with staffing issues and surging caseloads.


The number of states finding the variant is growing as well, with Massachusetts announcing its first case Saturday, a day after New Jersey, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Maryland reported their first confirmed cases. Missouri reported its first presumed case Friday. The variant also has been detected in Nebraska, Minnesota, California, Hawaii, Colorado, and Utah.


Case counts in California, Nebraska, and Colorado also grew Friday. Five cases in Northern California were linked to a wedding in Wisconsin late last month, public health officials said. One of the individuals had recently returned from traveling internationally, according to the Alameda County Department of Public Health.

Health officials confirmed six new cases of the variant in southeastern Nebraska. State health officials said the state’s first case likely stemmed from one of the six who recently traveled to Nigeria and returned on November 23rd.

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Colorado detected the state’s second case of the omicron variant just a day after the state’s first confirmed case, officials said Friday.

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