President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have been briefed on the latest situation regarding the new Omicron coronavirus variant, the White House said on Saturday, as Britain, Germany, and Italy reported detecting cases.
On Thursday, England and Wales announced a ban on flights from six countries in an effort to prevent the virus from penetrating their borders, but health experts believe it’s a bit like closing the barn door after the horses have escaped. Omicron was first detected in South Africa, leading countries including the US to impose travel restrictions on that nation and at least seven others in the region. No cases of Omicron have been identified in the US to date as of yet, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said. The agency expects that it would identify the variant quickly if it emerges in the US.
President Biden, who was spending Thanksgiving with family in Nantucket, Massachusetts, told reporters on Friday: “We don’t know a lot about the variant except that it is of great concern and seems to spread rapidly.”
As we move forward, we will continue to be guided by what the science and my medical team advises. For now the best way to strengthen your protection if you’re already vaccinated is to get a booster shot, immediately. For those not yet fully vaccinated: get vaccinated today.
— President Biden (@POTUS) November 26, 2021
Some Americans have learned about COVID19 better than others, and are responding to the new variant by implementing precautions that harken back to the pandemic’s early weeks. As parts of the US experience Covid surges, intensive care units in Michigan are approaching capacity, and New York and other eastern states are watching closely. Governor Kathy Hochul has already declared a state of emergency over the Omicron variant. On Friday the mayor-elect of New York City, Eric Adams, said the Omicron variant was “a concerning development that we must watch extremely closely, and be prepared to address as a city, state, and country. Our health officials must … have response options available should it prove to be significantly more virulent.”
Families, get your children vaccinated as soon as possible so that they are protected for the holidays. Learn more at https://t.co/j8BsS1gUZD.
— Vice President Kamala Harris (@VP) November 27, 2021
Two-thirds of New York state residents are fully vaccinated and close to 80% have received at least one dose, according to the governor’s office. But New York state is divided between intensively vaccinated downstate areas, including New York City, and upstate areas that have lower vaccination rates and higher rates of infection.
Everyone ages 5 years and older is eligible for a free #COVID19 vaccine. Find a vaccine near you:
📱 Text your ZIP code to 438829
— CDC (@CDCgov) November 28, 2021