A number of Empire State residents have tested positive for the new COVID variant. Officials have advice on how to help protect yourself.
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On Wednesday, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced the first confirmed cases of the COVID-19 Omicron variant in New York State.
"As I've said since we first became aware of the emergence of the Omicron variant and said earlier today, it was only a matter of time before it was detected here in New York State," Hochul said.
So far, the five cases appear unrelated and have been confirmed through sequencing of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, officials say.
"I want all New Yorkers to know that we are prepared for this and will continue to communicate openly with New Yorkers as we work closely with our partners at the national, state and local level," Hochul added.
One case is from Suffolk County with a history of travel to South Africa. The individual was asymptomatic while traveling home and after returning became symptomatic.
The other four cases are New York City residents. Two cases are from Queens and one is from Brooklyn. The fifth case is from the New York City area but officials are still trying to determine the borough.
"Thanks to the life-saving tools at our disposal, like vaccines and boosters, we have the tools in our arsenal to fight this pandemic - including the Delta and Omicron variants. I urge every New Yorker to take the necessary steps to keep themselves and their communities safe: get vaccinated, get boosted and wear a mask."
"We know is there is one way to address this. New Yorkers, get vaccinated get boosted and get ready! We do anticipate there will be more cases. This is not cause of alarm. This was foreseen. We knew it would come to New York State at some point. We are prepared for this," Hochul said while breaking the news.
The person from Minnesota was fully vaccinated and experienced mild symptoms.
"A Minnesota resident who was recently in New York City has tested positive for the Omicron variant and has mild symptoms," Hochul added. "This is not unexpected. The information is still evolving very mild symptoms. In fact, those symptoms have already (been) resolved. That is good news"
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Vaccinations for COVID-19 began being administered in the U.S. on Dec. 14, 2020. The quick rollout came a little more than a year after the virus was first identified in November 2019. The impressive speed with which vaccines were developed has also left a lot of people with a lot of questions. The questions range from the practical—how will I get vaccinated?—to the scientific—how do these vaccines even work?
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