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More cases of omicron variant detected across five states

Across New York City and the nation, officials are encouraging people to get either a coronavirus vaccine or a booster shot, especially with the newly discovered omicron variant emerging in countries around the world. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
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Nearly a dozen cases of the omicron coronavirus variant have now been detected around the United States, with many of them confirmed in New York on Thursday.

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New York and Hawaii are the latest to announce infections, and officials in both states said there is evidence of “community spread.” Cases have also been detected in California, Minnesota and Colorado. The Minnesota patient recently attended a New York City convention that drew thousands of people.

Health officials have been bracing to discover more infections since the first reported U.S. case was announced Wednesday.

“This is not a cause for major alarm,” New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) said at a news conference, urging people to wear masks, get vaccinated and get booster shots.

Researchers worry that omicron could prove more transmissible and more resistant to vaccines — but scientists are still trying to answer those questions.

Here’s what to know

  • White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday that “nothing is off the table” when it comes to controlling the virus’s spread.
  • Many vaccination and booster shot combinations appear likely to protect against covid-19, but Pfizer’s and Moderna’s shots may work best, according to a new study.
  • People will be required to wear masks on airplanes, trains, buses and other transportation through March 18, according to senior Biden administration officials.
  • All international travelers must take a coronavirus test one day before their flight to the United States, starting Dec. 6.
  • Anthony S. Fauci, the United States’ top infectious-disease expert, said the Biden administration is preparing for a possible “variant-specific boost” of vaccinations.