SUBSCRIBE NOW AND SAVE 3 months just 99 ¢/month

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

First case of omicron variant detected in Wisconsin, health officials say

Gov. Tony Evers urged more vaccination to ward off the variant's spread.

OPED-HILTZIK-COLUMN-CORONAVIRUS-ZUM.jpg
An image from an electron microscope shows SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Contributed / NIAID-RML/Zuma Press/TNS
TNS

Wisconsin health officials have detected the state's first case of the newly identified omicron variant, the Department of Health Services said Saturday.

A resident who had recently traveled to South Africa was the first person in the state to test positive for the new variant, which was discovered on Nov. 30, DHS said.

In response to the development, Gov. Tony Evers urged more vaccination to ward off the variant's spread.

"Now is the time to double down on our efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19, including the Omicron variant," Evers said in a statement. "I urge all eligible Wisconsinites to get vaccinated and receive a booster dose as soon as possible and to follow the latest public health guidance."

Much remains unknown about the new variant, including whether it is more contagious than previous strains, whether it makes people more seriously ill, and whether it can thwart the vaccine.

ADVERTISEMENT

The World Health Organization has said that the earliest known omicron cases caused mild symptoms, though they were detected in university students who have generally a lower risk of severe disease from COVID-19.

On Friday, state health officials said five people from California had tested positive for the omicron variant after attending a wedding in Milwaukee County over Thanksgiving weekend.

The five people with confirmed omicron cases are part of a group of 12 vaccinated people in Alameda County, California, who have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the Alameda County Department of Public Health. They are linked to the wedding in Wisconsin, "which one of these individuals attended upon return from international travel," that agency said.

The people were vaccinated and have "mildly symptomatic cases." Genomic sequencing for the remaining seven cases had not yet been completed.

(c)2021 The Wisconsin State Journal (Madison, Wis.)

Visit The Wisconsin State Journal (Madison, Wis.) at www.wisconsinstatejournal.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

What to read next
Can the label "consumer complaint" on a chocolate chip cookie sway how people think it tastes? In this episode of NewsMD's "Health Fusion," Viv Williams explores a study that highlights the power of negativity in people's food preferences.
The previous record in the Northland — 3,485 new COVID cases — was reported last week. This week's number is 5,689.
On Jan. 27, the Minnesota Department of Health and Wisconsin Department of Health Services recorded 1,231 new cases of COVID-19 in the Northland and four COVID-related deaths.
While there are encouraging signs that the worst of omicron is over, hospitalizations remain high.