New Omicron COVID-19 Variant Reaches Midwest.

The Omicron variant contains 50 genetic mutations, leading scientists to believe it may be highly contagious. Image courtesy of the CDC, public domain.

Author: Nikki Nair

The Omicron variant of the coronavirus has been detected in the Midwest as of Thursday, Dec. 1, 2021. The variant was found in a Minnesota man who had recently returned to Hennepin County from New York City. The man had been vaccinated and got a COVID-19 test on Nov. 24 after feeling mild symptoms for two days. Since the test, the man’s symptoms have subsided. 

This case was detected through Minnesota’s virus surveillance system. Health officials claim that the system increased the likelihood that the Midwest’s first Omicron case would be detected in Minnesota. They say this case is not surprising but concerning.

Omicron has been classified as a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organization, but health officials are reminding people that scientists are still working to learn more about both the Omicron and Delta variants. Without information on the contagiousness or severity of these variants, it’s hard for medical professionals to implement the most effective public health and safety measures. 

However, political and medical professionals from Minnesota have a focused path forward. Minnesota’s Commissioner of Health Jan Malcom gave a statement stressing the importance of using available tools to make it as difficult as possible for the virus to spread. Health officials say that the best way to keep the population safe and healthy is to limit all forms of COVID-19 through vaccination, testing and masking.