Man who contracted omicron, attended anime convention urges vaccination

The Minnesota man who tested positive for the omicron variant of the coronavirus after attending an anime convention in New York has just finished his quarantine, he said in an interview.

"I'm good to go," said Peter McGinn, a 30-year-old health care consultant from Minneapolis.

There is a lot McGinn still doesn't know about his infection with omicron, including how he contracted it and whether the covid cases that have been diagnosed among about 15 friends he saw in New York are also of the new variant.

One thing he does feel certain of is the value of vaccination. McGinn, who said he is vaccinated with J & J and received a Moderna booster shot in early November, had only very mild symptoms and some fatigue, which he initially attributed to his exhausting trip to New York. It was only after a friend tested positive that he took a rapid test.

"I would recommend everyone, when they can, do get the booster," McGinn said.

McGinn visited New York with about 35 friends. They ate out together, went to bars and sang karaoke as well as joining the 53,000-strong crowd who attended Anime NY, the three-day festival of Japanese animation at the Javits Center that began Nov. 19, the day after McGinn arrived.

It was the first convention of that size McGinn had attended since the pandemic began - and only the second ever, he said. It was also the first time he met about 27 of the people he spent time with in New York - a "community from all over the country" that had got together virtually during the pandemic around shared interest in a weekly anime podcast McGinn hosts, "What do you say anime!?" The convention required attendees to have received a single vaccination, in accordance with New York City rules.

Four of the group who subsequently tested positive - from Texas, Arizona, Connecticut and New Jersey - are coordinating with the Minnesota Department of Health to check whether they also have the omicron variant, McGinn said. The Minnesota Department of Health did not return a request for comment.

The Nov. 24 episode of "What do you say anime?!" recaps the anime convention and has a blurb reading, "The boys have returned from the Big Apple with sore throats and possible COVID exposure to deliver you some high quality con coverage from this year's AnimeNYC!"

"If you cannot tell by my voice, the boys had one hell of a weekend," McGinn said. The show's two other guests said they did not feel well.

"This is the first time I've been out of bed today. I feel terrible. My throat feels like it has razor blades in it," one guest said. Another said they felt "awful."

"We are all struggling, whether it's our voice, how we feel physically, but boy I'm not gonna lie, I had one hell of a weekend and I would trade it again in a heartbeat," McGinn said on the podcast.

McGinn's housemate has also tested positive for the coronavirus and "more than likely has the variant," McGinn said.

McGinn said he's achieved something of a celebrity status since his name became public this weekend, fielding calls from reporters.

The first thing he did after his quarantine lifted this weekend?

"I visited my mom," he said.