MDH: Omicron believed to be the dominant COVID-19 strain in Minnesota

Minnesota health officials are preparing for an increase in COVID-19 cases as people gather over the holidays.

Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said Wednesday that the department estimates the omicron variant is the dominant strain in Minnesota, as it is in the U.S.

"The quick rise of the Omicron variant underscores the importance of everyone taking steps to slow its spread so we don’t overwhelm our already stressed health care system," Malcolm said in a statement.

Malcolm and MDH urged Minnesotans to get vaccinated, get a booster shot when eligible, get tested and wear masks when necessary to protect each other, noting that the omicron variant spreads much easier than other variants and makes using multiple layers of protection essential.

"The bottom line is that if you are vaccinated and boosted, get tested before you go, and mask indoors when you’re in public, you can enjoy a safer holiday with your family and friends," Malcolm said.

As of Wednesday, nearly 3.5 million Minnesotans had a completed vaccine series and over 1.5 million had received a booster shot.