The omicron variant of the coronavirus has arrived on U.S. soil, and is residing in at least 17 states as of Monday (December 6). In late November the new strain was detected in South Africa, becoming the latest variant to be added to the World Health Organization’s research list.
Much is to be discovered about the potential impact of the omicron variant by scientists, however there are few things that are known about the new COVID-19 strain. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the omicron variant is found to be more transmissible, however current vaccines are protecting against severe illness, hospitalization and death.
At first the omicron strain was mostly outbreaking in South Africa, but as of last Wednesday (December 1) the first American case of omicron was found in California. Since then 16 more states are seeing new cases of the COVID-19 variant.
Washington, Utah, Colorado, Nebraska, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Missouri, Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia, Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland, Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Jersey all have cases of omicron variants, according to the CDC. Just like the original coronavirus variant, omicron is making the rounds globally, appearing in over 40 countries including: Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Kingdom, according to Forbes.
With the outbreak of omicron—and delta variant— in America, states like California are preparing for a winter COVID-19 surge. California’s surge planning could serve as an example to other states—since mid-November COVID-19 hospitalizations were reprieved by 30% in Central California due the initiation of surge planning, according to KTLA.
Although omicron is sparking concern amongst members of the medical community, and Americans in general, delta is still more of a danger as it stands now.
“We have about 90 to 100,000 cases a day right now in the United States, and 99.9% of them are the delta variant,” Centers for Disease Control Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky told This Week.