NEW YORK (WABC) -- Four more cases of the omicron variant were identified in New York State, bringing the total number of cases to 12.
The new cases were announced by New York Governor Kathy Hochul on Monday.
It comes just after additional mandates were announced, bringing new and stricter travel rules for passengers coming into the U.S. due to concerns about the emerging omicron variant.
Last week, President Biden announced the travel ban from South Africa, and Monday, there's a new testing rule. The rule is that a COVID test has to take place within 24 hours of the flight taking off.
Previously, the rule was three days, but with the omicron variant spreading even before it had a name, U.S. officials are taking few chances. That's despite growing evidence the new variant may be producing less severe illness.
So far, there's been a total of 10 confirmed cases in the Tri-State area including eight in New York, one in New Jersey, and one in Connecticut.
"The omicron variant is here, and as anticipated we are seeing the beginning of community spread," state Health Commissioner Mary Bassett said in a news release.
Governor Ned Lamont said the Connecticut case could be tied to a massive anime convention last month at the Javits Center where other positive cases have been found.
Attendees had to be vaccinated and wear a mask, showing omicron may be highly contagious, but again, maybe not as severe.
"We have really got to be careful before we make any determinations," Dr. Anthony Fauci said. "But, thus far, the signals are a bit encouraging regarding the severity. Even with a new variant like omicron, if you get boosted, you're going to get your level up, way up."
Thousands of hospital workers have left their jobs over the vaccine mandate. There has also been a surge in delta variant cases.
The number of people testing positive statewide each day for the virus has doubled in the last 30 days.
Fifteen members of the National Guard arrived at Monroe Community Hospital in Rochester on Saturday, WROC reported. Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin said Wednesday the state would send 13 National Guard teams to the western New York county, where County Executive Adam Bello has declared a state of emergency.
"We knew the omicron variant was coming and we expect to see more cases. But let me be clear: We are not defenseless," Hochul said. "We have the tools to help prevent the spread of this deadly virus: Get your vaccine, get your booster, and wear your mask."
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