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A Minnesota resident who attended the Anime NYC 2021 convention at the Javits Center in November tested positive for the COVID-19 omicron variant, marking the first known case of the variant in both New York City and New York state.
On Thursday, the CDC announced it was investigating a confirmed COVID-19 case caused by the omicron variant after a Minnesota resident who attended the annual anime convention, held this year from Nov. 18-20, had returned to their home state and tested positive. The CDC reports the individual, who has since recovered, developed mild symptoms on Nov. 22 before getting tested on Nov. 24.
The public health agency is working with the Minnesota Department of Health and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to investigate.
A statement from New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio acknowledged that the city is “aware of a case of the Omicron variant” that was identified in Minnesota and has since been associated with the New York City anime conference. He also notes that “we should assume there is community spread of the variant in our city.”
The mayor’s statement confirmed that the conference required masking and complied with the city’s Key2NYC vaccination mandate, which requires event attendees to have received at least one dose of the Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine. His office is working with the state, the CDC and the Javits Center’s event organizers on the case while the city’s test and trace corps is reaching out to conference attendees.
But the statement urged anyone who was in attendance at the event — “especially anyone experiencing symptoms” — to get tested and take additional measures such as social distancing.
In a tweet, city Health Commissioner Dave Chokshi also encouraged attendees to get tested. “It is likely that this is not an isolated case, meaning that there is ongoing community spread of the omicron variant in NYC,” he said.
Another major fall entertainment convention in the city, New York Comic Con, which followed the same COVID-19 protocols as the AnimeNYC conference, had no reported COVID-19 cases following its four days of events in early October.
On Monday, Nov. 29, Mayor de Blasio addressed potential omicron cases in the city during a press conference, telling viewers and media, “It is very likely there will be, but there are no cases at this moment.”
But by a Thursday evening press conference, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced that there are now five reported COVID-19 cases of the omicron variant in New York City and on Long Island.
The news comes just days after a new advisory was issued in the city on Monday that strongly recommends all residents wear masks in all public indoor settings, regardless of vaccination status. The announcement from New York City health officials was prompted by the anticipation of the new variant in the city.
During a press conference on Monday, the mayor stated that city officials’ decision to not enforce an indoor mask mandate yet was due to a desire to keep focus on vaccination as the spread of the omicron variant loomed.
The first known U.S. case of omicron — classified by the World Health Organization as a “variant of concern” — was reported Wednesday after a vaccinated traveler returned to California from South Africa on Nov. 22 before developing mild symptoms and testing positive for COVID-19.
The Hollywood Reporter has reached out to AnimeNYC for comment.
Dec. 3, 8:00 a.m. Updated with additional details from the New York City mayor and governor’s Thursday evening presser.
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