Convention attendees may have brought omicron to NJ
New York City has confirmed its first cases of the new omicron COVID variant, and the fear is that convention attendees may have already brought it to New Jersey.
The New Jersey Department of Health has sent out an alert and mobilized its contact tracers amid fears convention attendees may have brought omicron to the Garden State.
Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said in a statement, "Our expectation is that we have individuals in New Jersey who attended the convention and may potentially be at risk."
Persichilli is urging anyone who was at the Anime NYC 2021 Convention at the Javits Center from Nov. 19 to 21 to get tested immediately.
Contact tracing teams, Persichilli said, will work to identify any New Jersey resident which may have come in contact with the infected Minnesota man at the convention.
New Jersey has yet to confirm a single case of omicron, but suspect it is already here. Regular COVID testing, whether at a testing site or at home, cannot detect specific variants. New Jersey's Public Health Lab randomly selects positive test samples for gene sequencing, and that is how the specific variants are identified.
The state is contacting all testing locations in New Jersey in hopes of identifying individuals who may have traveled to locations where the omicron variant has already been detected. Those samples would then be selected for gene sequencing.
So far, most of the individuals in the United States who have been confirmed to be infected with omicron, have shown only mild symptoms. There is no evidence yet that the variant causes more severe disease.
The main concern about omicron is that it has mutated to a point where it can evade protections offered by both vaccine and the body's natural immunity after recovering from a previous infection. Health officials say current vaccine should provide some protections, which would increase with a booster dose.