The United States is detecting more cases of infected with the omicron variant of the coronavirus. New York announced three more cases of the omicron on Saturday, bringing the total number of infections in the state to eight.
“The omicron variant is here and as anticipated we are seeing the beginning of its spread among the community,” Health Commissioner Mary Bassett said in a statement.
The number of states in which the new variant has been detected has also increased, including Massachusetts, which announced its first case on Saturday, a day after New Jersey, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Maryland announced their first infections. Missouri reported a case Friday that it believes could be its first infected.
The variant has already been detected in Nebraska, Minnesota, California, Hawaii, Colorado and Utah as well.
In New York, seven of the cases correspond to New York City – the global epicenter of the pandemic for some time – and the other to Suffolk County.
The arrival of omicron occurs as state hospitals continue to have a shortage of staff and a high workload due to the increase in cases of coronavirus, most of the delta variant.
The number of people who have tested positive in daily diagnostic tests in the state has doubled in the past 30 days.
Governor Kathy Hochul in recent days authorized the Health Department to restrict non-essential or urgent procedures at hospitals, which are about to run out of beds, and deployed National Guard teams to relieve health workers in the clinics that are understaffed and more hospitalized.
Fifteen members of the National Guard arrived at the Monroe Community Hospital in Rochester on Saturday, according to the WROC. On Wednesday, Lt. Governor Brian Benjamin announced that the state would send 13 National Guard teams to New York County in the west, whose local executive, Adam Bello, declared a state of emergency.
The omicron cases in New York appear to be unrelated to each other, Hochul reported.
One of those infected is a Minnesota man who attended a three-day anime conference in November in New York City. Authorities have asked those who attended that conference to take a diagnostic test and wear a mask when in public.
Many characteristics of omicron are still unknown, including whether it is more contagious —as some health authorities suspect—, whether it is invulnerable to current vaccines, and whether it makes people as sick as the original variant.