6 Dec 2021
Omicron Variant Already Found in 16 U.S. States; S. Africa Complains Being Punished
The Index Today
U.S. health officials said on Sunday that the Omicron variant of the coronavirus has already spread to about one-third of U.S. states, but the Delta version remains the majority of COVID-19 infections as cases increase nationwide.
Emergence of the new variant has caused worries worldwide, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease official, told CNN "thus far it does not look like there's a great degree of severity to it." He added that it was too early to draw definitive conclusions and that more study is needed.
Dr. Fauci, U.S. President Joe Biden's chief medical adviser, said he also hoped the United States would lift its ban on travelers from southern African countries in a "reasonable period of time."
The South African government has complained that they are being punished - instead of being applauded for discovering the new variant and quickly informing international health officials.
Dr. Fauci said in an interview on CNN's "State of the Union," praised South Africa for its transparency and said the U.S. travel ban was imposed at a time "when we were really in the dark" and needed time to study the variant.
According to a Reuters tally, At least 16 U.S. states have reported Omicron cases: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin.
Many of the cases were among fully vaccinated individuals with mild symptoms, although the booster shot status of some patients was not reported.
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky told ABC News in an interview that despite several dozen Omicron cases, the Delta variant still accounts for 99.9% of new COVID cases in the United States.
"We are everyday hearing about more and more probable cases so that number is likely to rise," she added.
The United States over the last seven days has averaged 119,000 new cases a day and lost nearly 1,300 lives to COVID each day, according to a Reuters tally.
©Photo: Seth Wenig / AP file