The Omicron variant of the coronavirus has spread to about one-third of U.S. states, but the Delta version remains the majority of COVID-19 infections as cases rise nationwide, U.S. health officials said on Sunday. At least 16 U.S. states have reported Omicron cases: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin, according to a Reuters tally.
Though the emergence of the new variant has caused alarm worldwide, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease official, said on Sunday “thus far it does not look like there’s a great degree of severity to it.” He added that it was too early to draw definitive conclusions and that more study is needed. As U.S. Omicron cases emerge, COVID-19 vaccine makers aim to quickly tweak their shots to target the variant and U.S. regulators have vowed speedy reviews, but that could still take months.
Many of the cases were among fully vaccinated individuals with mild symptoms, although the booster shot status of some patients was not reported. Despite several dozen Omicron cases, the Delta variant still accounts for 99.9% of new COVID cases in the United States, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky told ABC News in an interview. “We are every day hearing about more and more probable cases so that number is likely to rise,” she said.
Good news on Omicron and vaccines: “The early indication is that you are going to be protected against serious illness with two doses of mRNA-containing vaccines. And the booster dose can increase antibodies,” Dr Paul Offit, FDA Advisory Cmte, to me this am.
— Jim Sciutto (@jimsciutto) December 6, 2021
Fears surrounding the new variant are still impacting the country. Stock futures were flat in overnight trading on Monday after a rebound from a rollercoaster week as investors looked past the potential impact of the new omicron coronavirus variant. And it’s also raising questions about whether it will be safe to travel for the upcoming holidays, with Christmas now less than three weeks away.
📍While we worry about #Omicron, we are completely forgetting that #DeltaVariant is surging worldwide with winter—proven to be more deadly than all earlier strains for everyone <65 years old (this is true even despite better testing in 2021 than 2020).🧵
— Eric Feigl-Ding (@DrEricDing) December 6, 2021
On Monday. the Biden administration began requiring all travelers coming into the U.S. to provide proof of a negative coronavirus test taken within a day of their departure, regardless of citizenship and vaccination status. And it is extending the mask-wearing mandate onboard planes and inside airports into mid-March.