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Omicron detected in 17 U.S. states; New York City expands vaccine mandate to private employers


WASHINGTON - The omicron variant of the coronavirus has been identified in at least 17 U.S. states since California reported its first case Dec. 1 - and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky said cases are likely to increase as scientists rush to answer whether it is more transmissible or better able to evade the protections of existing vaccines.

"We are every day hearing about more and more probable cases," Walensky said in an interview with ABC News on Sunday. Here's where cases have been detected in the United States. The delta variant is still the dominant strain in the United States, and almost all coronavirus cases are associated with it, Walensky said.

New York City announced a coronavirus vaccine mandate for all private employers Monday as the city fights the spread of the omicron variant, and after the first seven cases among residents have been confirmed.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, D, said Monday morning that he had decided to impose the aggressive measure, which he described as the first of its kind in the nation, to help reduce further spread of the virus and prevent the city from being hit with another wave of infections ahead of the winter holidays.

Anthony Fauci, the nation's top public health adviser, said Sunday that early reports about omicron cases being relatively mild are "encouraging."

"Though it's too early to really make any definitive statements about it, thus far, it does not look like there's a great degree of severity to it," Fauci told CNN's State of the Union, as he expressed confidence that existing vaccines will confer "some degree, and maybe a considerable degree, of protection against the omicron variant, if, in fact, it starts to take hold in a dominant way in this country."

Also Monday tighter rules for entry into the United States for international travelers went into effect. All incoming travelers will need to show proof of a negative test taken within a day of their departure, regardless of vaccination status.

People will be required to wear masks on airplanes, trains, buses and other transportation in the United States through March 18, according to senior Biden administration officials.

Published : December 07, 2021

By : The Washington Post