Omicron Variant

Omicron in Midwest: What We Know About the Patient With the New COVID Variant in Wisconsin

The man reported mild symptoms and has not required hospitalization

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Wisconsin recorded its first case of the highly mutated omicron COVID-19 variant on Saturday in a resident who, according to the health department, recently traveled to South Africa.

According the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, the person with the new variant is an adult man, according to the health department, who is a resident of Milwaukee County and recently returned from a trip to South Africa.

Wisconsin health officials said the man was fully vaccinated against the virus and received a booster shot. He reported mild symptoms and has not required hospitalization.

Contact tracing efforts for this case have been completed, officials added.

“We’ve been prepared for this news and will continue trusting the science to help keep Wisconsinites and our communities healthy and safe,” said Gov. Tony Evers. “Now is the time to double down on our efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19, including the Omicron variant. I urge all eligible Wisconsinites to get vaccinated and receive a booster dose as soon as possible and to follow the latest public health guidance.”

This case is not related to a COVID-19 outbreak that DHS and the City of Milwaukee Health Department are currently investigating, officials noted.

DHS identifies COVID variants through a process called whole genome sequencing, which takes a sample of the virus from a positive specimen and reads the genetic code to determine the genetic makeup, according to health officials.

On Thursday, Minnesota recorded the first Midwest case of the omicron COVID variant via a specimen from a resident "with recent travel history to New York City," 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.

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."

Health officials in both Wisconsin and Minnesota urged residents to get vaccinated against COVID, wear well-fitting masks, get a booster shot if eligible and get tested if you have symptoms.

So far, the omicron variant has been detected in 12 states across the U.S. Here's a breakdown of the cases and locations.

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