As of Dec. 6, the rapidly spreading omicron variant has been detected in more than a dozen states across the country, including four in the Midwest.
While it has not yet been detected in Illinois, Chicago health officials said Sunday the omicron COVID-19 variant, labeled a "variant of concern" by the World Health Organization, will likely be detected in the city “within a number of days.”
"We have not yet detected the omicron variant here in Chicago or here in Illinois," Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said. "But I do expect that to happen likely within a number of days. There are multiple examples of case investigation going on right now, where we know that there are people who have been exposed to the omicron variant, that we are doing aggressive case investigation, testing and contact tracing on."
Based on the latest data, Arwady said omicron appears to be twice as contagious the delta COVID variant, which is already causing a surge throughout Chicago and much of the Midwest.
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Here's where in the Midwest the omicron COVID variant has been detected, as of Dec. 6.
Thursday, Dec. 2, the first Midwest case of the omicron COVID variant was confirmed in Minnesota, the state's health department said Thursday, via a specimen from a resident "with recent travel history to New York City."
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.
Friday, Dec. 3, a St. Louis resident with recent domestic travel history was presumed positive for omicron, the Missouri state health department said. The sample was sequenced by a commercial lab and is awaiting confirmation by the CDC.
The Missouri state health department did not provide information on the individual's age, vaccination history or symptoms.
Friday, Dec. 3, Nebraska officials confirmed six infections after a traveler returned from Nigeria and apparently infected five members of their household.
The individual returned from Nigeria on Nov. 23 and became symptomatic on Nov. 24, according to a press release from the Public Health Solutions District Health Department.
Saturday, Dec. 4, the second Midwest case of the omicron coronavirus variant was confirmed in Wisconsin in a resident with "recent travel history to South Africa," the state's health department said.
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.
The first U.S. state the omicron variant was detected in was California, on Dec. 1. Two days later, it was confirmed that at least at least five people in Northern California had contracted the omicron variant, and that the outbreak is linked to a wedding in Wisconsin last month.
Where else has the Omicron variant been detected?
The World Health Organization said Wednesday the omicron COVID variant, first discovered in South Africa, has been found in a number of countries across the world (note this map will continue to be updated as the situation develops).