MINNEAPOLS (WCCO) —  The newest strain of COVID-19 has now been identified in the United States with a case in California.

Scientists believe the fast-spreading Omicron variant could be the most contagious strain yet. WCCO looked into how researchers at the University of Minnesota are on the lookout for Omicron.

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It’s been a rocky couple of years for students at the University of Minnesota with the COVID-19 virus on campus.

“It takes a toll as in if you pay too much attention to it, you won’t be able to be able to focus in school, you will be paranoid going into your classes,” said Alysha Mutesi, a Wisconsin native and junior at the university.

And with news of the Omicron variant, students have even more on their minds. Deanna Brockett,  a senior at the university said, “sometimes when I go on the internet I see it, but I don’t really…sometimes I don’t like reading about it, it kind of scares me.”

And some fear it warranted — it’s their age group that could be affected most by Omicron.

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“What we know so far is its primarily detected in college students and young adults, that may be because of their social circles,” said Dr. Susan Kline is an infectious disease specialist and professor at the University of Minnesota,

Dr. Kline treats and researches COVID-19 effects, “The Omicron may be even more contagious than the Delta strain, and we know that the Delta strain is even more contagious than the original SARS- CoV-2.  She says there is “potentially a trend of things getting worse.”

The university is working with the Met Council and the state to test human wastewater — which can be an early indication, that Omicron is here. So far, they have not detected the virus in the water.

Dr. Kline says if it follows Delta, it will be several months before the variant is dominant. Meaning — it may be a while before this campus and this world can rest easy.

Dr. Kline says research is underway to see how vaccines hold up to the Omicron variant. They won’t know until they see more cases.

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Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield