In a hastily called video news conference, Broome County officials have announced the new variant of the coronavirus, first identified only a few weeks ago in South Africa, has made it to Broome County.

Broome County Executive Jason Garnar

County Executive Jason Garnar and acting director of the county Health Department, Mary McFadden announced that a person, who had traveled internationally, had been identified as infected with the Omicron variant of the virus that causes COVID-19.

December 6 New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced a total of 12 cases of the variant in the state, 10 in New York City and Long Island and two cases in Oneida County.

Health officials still have many questions concerning the variant including how dangerous it is, how quickly it spreads and if it has any resistance to the current COVID-19 vaccines.

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Meanwhile, Garnar is advising businesses in the region to put their own masking rules in place to help curb the spread of illness.  The county is not mandating the wearing of masks but strongly advises residents to wear face coverings inside, wash hands frequently, physically distance and limit the size of gatherings.

Leading up to the December 7 announcement in Broome County, McFadden said a sampling of COVID-19 tests conducted locally area sent to the State's Wadsworth Laboratory and other labs for the sequencing procedures that detect variants of the coronavirus.

County officials say the person who tested positive for the Omicron variant is expected to recover.

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