A new variant of COVID-19 is not only in the United States, but now there are cases being diagnosed in New York.

The new variant of COVID-19 is being referred to as “omicron.” The first U.S. case was found in the state of California, but in the last several days, new cases were detected in the states of Minnesota, Hawaii, Colorado, and our home state -- New York. 

New York State has detected its first five cases of the variant, Governor Kathy Hochul confirmed Thursday night. 

New York political leaders urged residents to get the COVID-19 vaccine in order to protect themselves (and others) from the virus. They also asked everyone to remain calm as we navigate through more COVID-19 unknown with this new variant. 

It is unclear at this time what kind of effect this variant of COVID-19 may have on the state, but as of now, Gov. Hochul assured that she was not announcing a shutdown or other implementations in response to the variant. 

The five cases of the omicron variant were found in:

  • a 67-year-old woman in Suffolk County who returned from South Africa, had mild symptoms and had received at least one dose of a vaccine (testing positive on Nov. 30)
  • two residents in Queens
  • one resident in Brooklyn 
  • and another person in New York City who had traveled recently. 

The mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio, and Governor Kathy Hochul believe that New York state is better equipped to fight the omicron variant than we were at the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020. Back then, New York was viewed by the rest of the country as the “epicenter” for the virus, and as a result, many New York residents took the initiative to get the vaccine.

Gov. Hochul assured, “We are in a far better place.”

However, more omicron cases are expected to be detected in the coming days, due to the nature of COVID-19 and how contagious it is. 

Mayor Bill de Blasio said, “We have to assume there is community spread.”

One of the governor’s greatest concerns is overcrowding the hospitals. Officials in New York state are working together to make sure that hospitals have enough capacity to take in new patients as needed. 

“We’re just trying to let people know, ‘We’ve got this,’” Gov. Hochul said. “There’s a reason we’re here together -- to signal that this is a challenge that we’re going to tackle together.”

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