The total number of reported coronavirus cases in the United States marched toward 50 million early Tuesday, as New York City imposed a vaccine mandate for all private employers, federal health authorities warned against travel to several European countries, and more nations tightened restrictions on the unvaccinated.
The omicron variant of the virus, which is possibly more contagious than the widespread delta variant, had been found in 19 U.S. states as of Monday — just five days after the first known case in the country emerged in California. That number reflected the potentially heightened transmissibility of the newest variant and an improved system for detecting it.
But public health experts nationwide are stressing that the overwhelming majority of the nation’s coronavirus cases are still caused by the highly transmissible delta variant, which has led to some of the worst spikes of the pandemic. By early Tuesday, the United States had tallied nearly 49.3 million coronavirus cases and more than 786,000 deaths since the first infection surfaced in January 2020, according to Washington Post tracking.