The man diagnosed with the first Midwest case of the new omicron COVID variant recently attended a convention in New York City, Minnesota health officials confirmed.
According to health officials, the man, a Minnesota resident, developed mild symptoms on Nov. 22 and was tested for COVID on Nov. 24. He reported traveling to New York City and attending the Anime NYC 2021 convention from Nov. 19-21 at the Javits Center.
The resident of Hennepin County in Minnesota had been vaccinated and has since recovered, health officials said.
Minnesota's health department said epidemiologists will continue to investigate alongside New York City and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In the case of the first recorded instance of the omicron variant in the United States, the infected person was identified as a traveler who had returned from South Africa on Nov. 22. He developed mild symptoms and tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday.
The person, who had had the full two doses of the Moderna vaccine and wasn't yet due for a booster shot, is improving, California officials said.
After the first coronavirus case linked to omicron was recorded in California, health officials in Illinois said the COVID-19 threat will likely travel to our own state.
"We knew it was only a matter of time before the Omicron variant was identified in the U.S. and we anticipate there will be cases in Illinois," the Illinois Department of Public Health posted to social media Wednesday.
Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, said the state continues to encourage all residents age 5 and older to receive the COVID vaccine, wear a mask, get tested for the virus and maintain social distancing in light of the new variant.
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.