Anime NYC attendee tests positive for Omicron variant

by Keane Eacobellis

The Minnesota Department of Health has confirmed that a man who attended the Anime NYC convention two weekends ago is now the second person in the United States with a confirmed case of the Omicron variant of COVID-19.

An estimated 53,000 con-goers filled the Javits Center in Manhattan over the Nov. 19-21 weekend in the first major anime convention since the COVID-19 pandemic began in early 2020. Vaccinations or negative tests were required to enter the convention center, and wearing masks was mandated while inside.

Per the MDH:

The person spoke with MDH case investigators and reported traveling to New York City and attended the Anime NYC 2021 convention at the Javits Center from Nov. 19-21. The person was advised to isolate from others. Minnesota epidemiologists will continue to investigate in collaboration with New York City and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Minnesota Department of Health

According to the MDH, the person developed “mild symptoms” on Nov. 22, the day after the event concluded. Since testing positive for COVID-19 on Nov. 24, the “person’s symptoms have resolved.” The case comes at a time when the severity of the Omicron variant is still under question.

Scientists are still working to determine how it may compare with the predominant Delta variant in terms of transmissibility and disease severity. Scientists also are studying the degree to which existing vaccines and therapies protect against Omicron.

Minnesota Department of Health

New York governor Kathy Hochul anticipates there will be more cases, but said in a press conference this morning: “This is not cause for alarm. We knew it would come to New York state at some point.”

New York City mayor Bill de Blasio added that residents should “assume there is community spread of the variant.” In a separate statement, de Blasio urged con-goers to get tested.

“Anyone who attended the Anime NYC conference, especially anyone experiencing symptoms, should get tested immediately and take additional precautions,” the statement reads.

Update Dec. 3, 2021, 8:19 a.m. CT: A statement that Anime NYC sent to attendees and shared on Twitter informs con goers that Anime NYC is working with the New York City Department of Health and other agencies to coordinate contact tracing and urges all in attendance to seek testing:

We’re actively working with officials from the New York City Department of Health, who are coordinating with various state agencies, and all participants who ordered badges online, as well as exhibitors, artists, and partners. All attendees should receive an email or call from the NYC Test and Trace Corps or their local health departments with further information and recommended next steps. You are strongly advised to get tested.

An Anime NYC representative told WGTC, “The event followed all guidance laid out by the city and state, including mask requirements and proof of vaccination for all individuals inside the Javits Center.” The representative reiterated that attendees should get tested.