Dec. 3, 2021 By Allie Griffin
Two cases of the COVID-19 variant known as Omicron have been detected in Queens, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Thursday.
Two Queens residents are among five New York state residents who have confirmed cases of the Omicron variant, which was first identified in South Africa last month. Health officials are concerned that the new variant may be more contagious than prior variants of COVID-19 because of its abnormally high level of mutations, though much remains unknown.
Hochul, who joined Mayor Bill de Blasio at City Hall, said the other cases were found in Brooklyn, Suffolk County and an unknown borough. She didn’t immediately have information on the vaccination status of each case.
She said all five “seem to be minor cases”.
“This is not a cause for major alarm,” Hochul said. “…We’re not having shutdowns. We’re not changing our protocols. We are continuing where we are, but making sure that we work in concert together and encourage people to get tested.”
Hochul and de Blasio advised New Yorkers to get tested for COVID-19 frequently and to get vaccinated — including the booster shot for those eligible.
The governor said she and other New York officials “knew that this was coming” though a lot about Omicron remains unknown.
De Blasio added that officials believe there is already community spread of Omicron in New York City.
“We know we now have cases here in New York City,” he said. “We have to assume that means there’s community spread. We have to assume that means we’re going to see a lot more cases.”
One of the first cases of Omicron detected in the U.S. was contracted by a Minnesota man who traveled to the city for an anime convention at the Jacob Javits Center in Manhattan, which brought in about 53,000 attendees over three days.
Despite the concern, de Blasio and Hochul maintained that New York has the tools to protect its residents through its massive vaccination effort.
“The best thing that everyone can do is realize we’re not defenseless against this variant at all,” Hochul said.