Over the weekend, the first cases of the omicron COVID-19 variant were identified in New England. It was first discovered stateside in California, and U.S. health officials say it is now in 17 states.
Many critical questions about omicron remain unanswered, including whether the virus causes milder or more severe illness and how quickly it will spread.
Scientists point to what’s happening in South Africa, where omicron was first detected. Omicron’s speed in infecting people and achieving near dominance in South Africa has health experts worried that the country is at the start of a new wave that may overwhelm hospitals.
But U.S. health officials said Sunday that while the omicron variant is rapidly spreading throughout the country, early indications suggest it may be less dangerous than delta, which continues to drive a surge of hospitalizations.
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Here's a look at the state of affairs in New England state thus far:
The variant was first detected in Massachusetts on Saturday by New England Biolabs in a fully vaccinated woman in her 20s from Middlesex County, health officials said. It was unclear if she'd also received a booster shot.
The woman, who had recently traveled out of state, reported mild symptoms, according to state health officials.
Ann Scales, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Health, said Tuesday that no new cases have been identified since then.
"We don’t have any further information about Omicron cases at this point," she said in an email.
Like in Massachusetts, the first known case of the omicron variant to appear in Connecticut was announced Saturday in a fully vaccinated person, a man in his 60s from Hartford County. The case was confirmed by the Connecticut State Public Health Laboratory.
A fully vaccinated family member of the man, who'd recently traveled to New York City, also tested positive for COVID-19. Both patients recovered after exhibiting mild systems.
A second case of the omicron variant was identified Tuesday in Connecticut, Gov. Ned Lamont announced on Twitter.
The governor’s office said the second case was in a fully vaccinated man in his 20s from Fairfield County. The man did not report any links to the NYC Anime 2021 Convention but traveled to New York City in the week before his symptoms started.
The man developed mild symptoms on Dec. 2, then on Dec. 4, he tested positive on an at-home rapid antigen test and a molecular test. The sequencing on the case was performed by the Yale School of Public Health.
"We have not identified any cases in Rhode Island," said Joseph Wendelken, a spokesman for the state's Department of Health, on Tuesday.
Katie Warchut, a spokeswoman for the Vermont Department of Health, said Tuesday that no omicron cases have been identified in the state "at this time."
Robert Long, a spokesman for the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said in an email Tuesday that no cases of the variant have been identified in Maine.
No cases of the variant have yet been announced in New Hampshire.
Health officials said at a press conference Wednesday afternoon that no cases of omicron had been identified in the state, but it is "only a matter of time."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.