The first Midwest case of the omicron COVID variant has been confirmed in Minnesota, the state's health department said Thursday, via a specimen from a resident "with recent travel history to New York City."
The omicron variant was found through the health department's variant surveillance program, health officials said.
The person with the variant, according to Minnesota's health department, is an adult male resident of Hennepin County who had been vaccinated. His symptoms "have resolved."
According to health officials, the person developed mild symptoms on Nov. 22 and was tested for COVID on Nov. 24. He reported traveling to New York City and attended the Anime NYC 2021 convention from Nov. 19-21 at the Javits Center.
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The health department said Minnesota epidemiologists will continue to investigate alongside New York City and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"This news is concerning, but it is not a surprise," Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said in a statement. "We know that this virus is highly infectious and moves quickly throughout the world. Minnesotans know what to do to keep each other safe now — get the vaccine, get tested, wear a mask indoors, and get a booster. Together, we can fight this virus and help keep Minnesotans safe."
Minnesota Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm said the new finding "underscores the importance of continued efforts by all Minnesotans to limit the spread of COVID-19 in any form."
“We still have more to learn about Omicron, but the most important thing we can do right now is to use the tools we have available to make it as hard as possible for this virus to spread,” Commissioner Malcolm said. “In addition to vaccination and boosters, we can slow the spread of this variant and all COVID-19 variants by using the tried-and-true prevention methods of wearing masks, staying home when sick, and getting tested when appropriate.”
Health officials urged residents to get vaccinated against COVID-19, wear well-fitting masks, get a booster shot if eligible and get tested if you have symptoms.
On Wednesday, a person in California became the first in the U.S. to have an identified case of the omicron variant of COVID-19.