The omicron variant is here - and it's starting to settle in.
Like tourists hitting the streets for the holiday season, the latest strain of the COVID-19 virus began making its way across the city and state.
According to Gov. Kathy Hochul, there are a total of 12 confirmed cases across the state, including two new cases on Long Island.
"Four more cases of the COVID-19 omicron variant were just identified in New York State," the governor said. "With the new variant circulating, the best way to stay safe and prevent serious illness during the holiday season is by getting vaccinated or a booster shot.
"With more friends and family gathering indoors this time of year, we have the tools to fight this pandemic and you can protect yourself and your loved ones by getting vaccinated and encouraging others to get the shot, and mask up. We will continue to work with local leaders to provide the latest updates and make sure they have what they need to help prevent the spread of this deadly virus."
Local health officials had warned that it was only a matter of time before cases of the still-mysterious omicron variant began popping up in local hospitals and clinics.
It was just weeks ago when the variant was first discovered in South Africa, and travel restrictions were put in place in a futile attempt to isolate it.
Health officials traced one of the nation's early omicron cases to the Anime NYC 2021 convention at the Javits Center last month.
While none of New York's most recent cases are related to the recent convention, the state Health Department still urges anyone who attended to get tested for COVID-19.
Scientists do not yet know if omicron is more infectious than other variants. They are also unsure whether it causes more severe disease or whether it will overtake delta as the most prevalent variant. Those answers may be weeks away.