Ohio and Rhode Island have become the 28th and 29th U.S. states to report cases of the Omicron variant of the virus that causes COVID-19.
Ohio officials announced on Dec. 11 that two cases of the variant were detected in the state, both of whom were fully vaccinated more than six months ago. Rhode Island officials confirmed one case of the variant on Dec. 11; that patient was fully vaccinated and had recently returned from New York.
More than half of the states in the country have confirmed cases of Omicron, a variant of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, through genomic sequencing.
Across 29 states, 110 cases have been reported as of Dec. 11.
Officials have disclosed the vaccination status of 66 of the infected individuals. Of those individuals, 52 were fully vaccinated. Some had even gotten vaccine booster shots.
Most of the Omicron cases in the United States have been among those vaccinated against COVID-19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in a Dec. 10 update. Most patients have experienced mild symptoms. Some of them have recently returned from trips from Africa or have been in contact with somebody else who had done so.
At least one person has died with the Omicron variant in the United Kingdom, since the strain was identified by South African scientists in November.
Early data indicate that the variant, when compared to earlier strains, is transmitted more easily, can better evade the protection bestowed by vaccines, and may be able to better evade natural immunity, or protection from prior infection.
But COVID-19 cases caused by the Omicron variant have been less severe on average.
Few U.S. patients have required hospitalization from the variant thus far, according to reports from state health authorities and the CDC.
Cases have been confirmed in Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington state, and Wisconsin.