More than a dozen friends of the Minnesota resident who recently traveled to New York City and tested positive for the Omicron variant of COVID-19 have also tested positive for the virus, according to reports.
The fully vaccinated man who attended an anime convention in Manhattan from Nov. 19 to Nov. 21 told New York health officials that of 30 friends with whom he attended the event, 15 tested positive for coronavirus, the New York Times reported Saturday. It’s unclear if the cohort who tested positive contracted the Omicron variant of the virus, according to the paper
The Hennepin County resident, who experienced mild COVID-19 symptoms, had received a booster dose weeks before the three-day Javits Center convention, the paper reported.
He was among the first reported cases of the new variant, first named late last month; the Minnesota Department of Health announced the detection the day after federal officials revealed that the first US case of the Omicron COVID-19 variant had been found in California.
Kathy Como-Sabetti, head of the coronavirus epidemiology team for the Minnesota Department of Public Health, said she was “concerned” about spread of the virus at a crowded, sizable gathering, where masks and at least one shot of a COVID-19 were required.
“Time will tell how large it becomes,” Como-Sabetti told paper. “It’s hard to say that it is a super spreader. Certainly we’re concerned about that.”
Despite the roughly 15 coronavirus cases stemming from the convention, a spokesman for the Big Apple’s contact tracing program, Adam Shrier, said in a statement, “We haven’t found evidence of widespread transmission at the convention.”
But Michael Osterholm, the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, warned the Minnesota case is just the tip of the iceberg.
“Very quickly we’re going to see a number of Omicron cases around the country in many locations, just as we’ve seen in Minnesota,” he said, according to the paper.
Also Saturday, Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont announced that the first case of the new variant has been confirmed in the state, and that it was linked to the anime event. A fully vaccinated Hartford County resident in his 60s developed “mild symptoms” on Nov. 27 after coming in contact with a family member who had attended the Anime NYC 2021 Convention between Nov. 17 and Nov. 22, according to the governor’s statement.
Meanwhile, three more cases of the Omicron variant were detected in New York, bringing the new variant tally to eight in the Empire State, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Saturday.
The news came after on Friday New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, and Utah all reported their first cases of the new variant.