Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) said Thursday that residents should assume that the omicron variant of the coronavirus is already present in New York City.
Earlier Thursday, Minnesota officials confirmed the identity of a 22-year-old man suffering from the omicron variant in the state. The man had recently returned from New York City, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.
“We are aware of a case of the Omicron variant identified in Minnesota that is associated with travel to a conference in New York City, and we should assume there is community spread of the variant in our city,” de Blasio stated. “We are working closely with the State and the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention], as well as the Javits Center’s event organizers, and our Test and Trace Corps will be contacting conference attendees. This conference required masks and complied with our Key2NYC requirement to mandate vaccination.”
De Blasio’s remarks come one day after the first omicron variant case was announced in California.
Omicron was first found in South Africa in November. Officials there said the variant has fueled an “exponential” increase in COVID-19 cases in the country in recent weeks.
The variant has 32 genetic mutations to the spike protein, which is the target of currently available vaccines against the virus, meaning the shots could be less effective at preventing infection, experts say.
The UPI contributed to this report.