AUSTIN (KXAN) — Nearly 2,000 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Austin-Travis County over the past week, according to Austin’s COVID-19 dashboard. That doesn’t include people who tested at home or through private sites.
The CDC is reporting roughly 90% of cases in the six-state region Texas is in are omicron. So what can you expect if you get sick with COVID-19 right now? We asked Central Texans who recently tested positive to describe their symptoms.
Seasonal allergies mix with omicron surge
Isaac Rodriguez tested positive for COVID-19 Tuesday morning after feeling congested, sneezing and having a slight cough. Rodriguez says he would have thought he had allergies, but several people around him were sick as well.
“The people around me, they have it worse I think than me. They’re having the more traditional COVID symptoms,” Rodriguez told KXAN from his home. “Kind of seemed like normal seasonal allergies (for me), that’s what I did think it was at first.”
That’s something health leaders say they’re finding to be common as they contact trace tests reported to the health department. An overwhelming number of people are telling contact tracers they thought they simply had allergies.
“There have been reports that people are experiencing slighter symptoms, so they are feeling exhausted, congestion, runny nose and sore throat,” Janet Pichette, Austin Public Health’s chief epidemiologist said last week.
Ana Lopez is also fully vaccinated, has her booster shot, and felt as though she had allergies before testing positive for COVID-19 last week. She’s been quarantined since.
“Mostly I’ve just had a light cough, it’s like a dry cough, little headaches here and there, lots of fatigue,” Lopez said. “A lot of sneezing, a lot of congestion.”
People are also finding they have COVID-19 because they planned to travel, and the tests they took as a precaution came back positive.
Jay Kahlon was supposed to be in Austin celebrating the holidays with his family, he moved to Nashville several years ago, but a quick temperature check revealed Kahlon was running a low-grade fever. He decided to get tested.
“I didn’t want to expose anybody,” Kahlon said. “We don’t know who’s walking through the airport nowadays.”
Unlike Lopez and Rodriguez, Kahlon said even though he didn’t have symptoms to start, he soon became exhausted, had trouble breathing and had his throat tighten. Kahlon ended up having to go to an emergency room in Nashville.
“Listen to your body because, as a healthy person, it really knocked me out,” Kahlon said.
Robert Ortega wrote to KXAN that he got back to Central Texas from Colorado last week and tested positive for COVID-19 two days later. He says he later experienced a fever and chills, and what he describes as a “horrible” sore throat.
Experts warn that it’s too early to assume that omicron, which is highly transmissible and heavily mutated, will end up being a mild variant. They stress that people who are unvaccinated could experience more severe illness.
“For the unvaccinated, you’re looking at a winter of severe illness and death, for yourselves, your families, and the hospitals you may soon overwhelm,” White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeff Zients said Friday, echoing the president’s own comments earlier this week.
Health leaders are asking anyone who experiences mild to serious symptoms to get tested for COVID-19 and to isolate.
“Make sure that you are monitoring your symptomology,” Pichette said.