It’s been a surprising couple of weeks for Peter McGinn of Minneapolis. McGinn became the first Minnesotan to contract the new omicron strain of COVID-19 after he was at a convention in New York City shortly before Thanksgiving.
The 30-year-old is fully vaccinated and received a booster the first week of November.
Prior to traveling to New York for an anime convention, McGinn had flown to Texas for a work trip on Nov. 10 and came back home a few days later.
A friend came down with COVID after the anime convention, so McGinn got tested. The results came back with a bit of a shock: He had the new variant.
The following is a lightly edited transcript of the conversation. Listen to the full interview using the audio player above.
Tell us more about the time you spent at that anime convention.
It was the first time in a long time that I was able to go out and about and enjoy a trip with my friends, and having a convention there was honestly like a dream. Unfortunately, I came down with COVID. And now here we are today.
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Did you feel it was a pretty well-protected gathering when you were there?
Yeah, they did have guidelines set for vaccination status and the uses of masks. So I was very comfortable in the space that they provided for us, and knowing that people were following the guidelines, I did feel safe the entire time I was there.
How do you think you contracted this?
From my conversations with the Minnesota Department of Health in contact tracing, we came to the conclusion that I more than likely contracted it outside of the convention during events such as dinner, bar hopping, karaoke — where we were in situations where people were not wearing masks.
However, all of these events in New York City have guidelines where proof of vaccinations had to be shown, but it was more than likely that I contracted it from a party member of mine who was asymptomatic. And I was in close contact with them for multiple days.
How were feeling physically prior to hearing that your friend was COVID positive?
I was feeling pretty well. During the time there, I spent most of my time walking around the city and the convention. So the days after the convention, I personally thought I was just tired from walking 15 miles a day, getting six hours of sleep. And just having that post-con ... I felt like I had a minor cold. And I thought it was just from the exhaustion that I put on my body. I was pretty shocked to hear of my results.
I'm sure you were surprised because you were fully vaccinated and boosted, and there were some people on social media also surprised that you still contracted the virus.
It's one of the biggest reasons why I decided that I wanted to speak out — because I originally wasn't planning on talking to anybody. But as soon as the press release came out from the Department of Health, I started seeing misinformation being talked about already. I felt that I should at least express my opinions and my viewpoints from false information that was out on social media or news outlets that never talked to me, but they were reporting it anyway. So I just wanted to get that out there.
Without having the vaccine, do you think you would have gotten much sicker?
Absolutely, yeah. Just seeing a lot of people that have severe cases of COVID that require hospitalizations, we see that it's mostly in the unvaccinated community. So when I see that it makes me want to do anything I can in my power to help reduce that. And to me, I think that's what vaccinations are.