Updated: December 02, 2021 10:24 PM
Created: December 02, 2021 10:10 PM
Shortly after the Minnesota Department of Health confirmed the first case of the omicron variant of COVID-19 in the state, President Joe Biden addressed the nation with a plan to combat the emerging strain.
"This new variant is a cause for concern, but not panic,” Biden said. “We enter this winter in a position of strength compared to where America was last winter."
According to the White House, President Biden’s Winter Action Plan has steps that aim to “protect Americans against the delta and omicron variants as we battle COVID-19 this winter.”
Those verbatim steps include:
• Boosters for All Adults
• Vaccinations to Protect Our Kids and Keep Our Schools Open
• Expanding Free At-Home Testing for Americans
• Stronger Public Health Protocols for Safe International Travel
• Protections in Workplaces to Keep Our Economy Open
• Rapid Response Teams to Help Battle Rising Cases
• Supplying Treatment Pills to Help Prevent Hospitalizations and Death
• Continued Commitment to Global Vaccination Efforts
• Steps to Ensure We Are Prepared for All Scenarios
“We have the best tools, the best vaccines, the best medicine, the best scientists in the world,” Biden said. “We're going to fight [these variants] with science and speed, not chaos and confusion.”
MDH addressed the state following the confirmation of the second omicron case in the nation here in Minnesota. Through their variant surveillance program, MDH says as of Thursday morning it had flagged fewer than 10 possible cases of the omicron variant but more work needs to be done on those cases to determine if they are omicron.
As public health officials work to track more cases, MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm says Minnesotans should continue to take steps to protect themselves and their families.
“Omicron, just again, is another kind of wake-up call — if we needed another one,” Malcolm said.
She added this battle remains a global challenge that will continue to evolve.
“Even though we might feel like we're done with the pandemic, it is most certainly not done with us,” Malcolm said.
Stressed by Malcolm, Biden, and KSTP medical expert Dr. Archelle Georgiou, the best way to protect yourself and your family is to get vaccinated, receive your booster shot and follow COVID-19 safety guidance.
Dr. Georgiou says while it’s important to stay on top of information surrounding the omicron variant, the delta variant is still spreading rapidly through the community.
“99.9% of the variant that is circulating in the United States, and in Minnesota right now, based on statistics by the CDC is still the delta variant,” Dr. Georgiou said. “That's what we still need to be concerned about.”
Another note from health officials today is that the cases of omicron that have been detected have had only mild symptoms. A few weeks need to pass before they know if omicron will have as much of an impact as delta has had.
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