Public health officials in Maine said Friday the state has detect the omicron variant of COVID-19 within its borders.
The Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor conducted genomic sequencing to confirm the variant in five samples from Penobscot County, the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday. The variant has been detected in more than 40 states.
Gov. Janet Mills called the news "unwelcome but not unexpected" and encouraged residents to take precautions such as mask wearing and vaccination.
"While we are still learning about this new variant, the take-away for Maine people should be this: get vaccinated now and wear a mask when you're indoors in public," Mills said.
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Maine is in the midst of a surge of COVID-19 cases. The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Maine has risen over the past two weeks from 423 on Dec. 1 to 1,048 on Dec. 15. The Associated Press is using data collected by Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering to measure outbreak caseloads and deaths across the United States.
Earlier Friday, the signature of the omicron variant was detected in wastewater in Vermont. While the finding only suggests that the variant is in the state, Vermont Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine said in a statement that he expects a local case would be confirmed "soon, perhaps in a matter of days."