The omicron variant is now believed to be in at least half of the United States.
ABC News reports "at least 25 states" have reported confirmed cases of the omicron variant as of Thursday (December 9) since the initial U.S. case was reported in California just over a week ago.
Iowa, Michigan and Virginia were the latest states to confirm positive cases of the newer variant as of Thursday, following Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin.
On Wednesday (December 8), U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Dr. Rochelle Walensky told the Associated Press more than 40 people were infected with the omicron variant, but symptoms were mild in nearly all cases so far.
“What we generally know is the more mutations a variant has, the higher level you need your immunity to be. ... We want to make sure we bolster everybody’s immunity. And that’s really what motivated the decision to expand our guidance,” Walensky said, in reference to the CDC's recent approval of COVID booster shots for all adults.
Last week, Dr. Walensky appeared on This Week Sunday (December 5) morning alongside co-anchor Martha Raddatz and said the CDC was following the then-16 cases closely, but believed the totals were "likely to rise."
"We know it has many mutations, more mutations than prior variants," Walensky said. "Many of those mutations have been associated with more transmissible variants, with evasion of some of our therapeutics, and potentially evasion of some of our immunity, and that's what we're watching really carefully."