COLUMBUS, Ohio — Health officials have reported the first known cases of the omicron coronavirus variant in Ohio.
The two cases were detected in two adult men in central Ohio, according to the Ohio Department of Health.
Both men tested positive on Dec. 7.
The two samples were identified by scientists at the Ohio State University.
In both cases, the men received an initial COVID-19 vaccine dose more than six months ago, but neither of the men had received a booster shot.
Health officials say both men are experiencing mild symptoms and have not been hospitalized. Neither of the men has a history of international travel.
"It’s important to note that out of about one thousand tests sequenced at Ohio State in the last three weeks, only two are omicron. The delta variant remains the strain responsible for the most illness and filling up emergency rooms and hospital beds across the state of Ohio,” said Dr. Andrew Thomas, chief clinical officer at the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center.
News that the variant is now in Ohio comes as hospitalizations statewide reach the highest point since January.
Many questions have been circulating about the new variant, which was first detected by scientists in South Africa the week of Thanksgiving. The first U.S. case was reported days later in California.
Pfizer said Wednesday that a booster of its COVID-19 vaccine may offer important protection against the new omicron variant even though the initial two doses appear significantly less effective.
Health officials have expressed concern that the variant could possibly carry an increased risk of reinfection -- meaning those who have already tested positive for COVID-19 could potentially get the virus again.
President Joe Biden has reiterated that while the variant is cause for concern, it is not cause for panic. In a briefing on Monday, Biden urged more Americans to get vaccinated.
You can read more about the variant here.