1st confirmed omicron case in Pennsylvania is reported
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Health officials reported the first confirmed case of the omicron variant in Pennsylvania on Friday, a man in his 30s from Philadelphia.
The Philadelphia Department of Public Health announced the case in a news release. No other details were immediately available, including whether the man was vaccinated against COVID-19 or if he had been traveling. Health officials said contact tracing was underway.
The health department said the variant’s arrival was “not unexpected” in Philadelphia and that residents should “seriously reconsider” plans for indoor holiday gatherings.
“A new variant, especially one that may be more transmissible, means that we have to stay vigilant about taking steps to protect ourselves and everyone around us,” Mayor Jim Kenney said in a written statement. “I know that this news is especially discouraging as we enter the holiday season, but we can get through this together.”
He urged residents to get vaccinated and take additional precautions in public.
Much remains unknown about the new omicron variant of the coronavirus, including whether it is more contagious, as some health authorities suspect, whether it can thwart vaccines and whether it makes people as sick as the original strain.
People in at least five other states have tested positive for omicron, including California, Colorado, Hawaii, Minnesota and New York.
Word of Philadelphia’s omicron case came as Pennsylvania reports sharp increases in COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations.
Pennsylvania reported 10,127 new COVID-19 infections on Friday — the first time since early January that daily cases exceeded 10,000 — while hospitalizations are up by more than a third since mid-November.