HAYS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) – The new COVID-19 variant XBB 1.5 is quickly spreading in the United States, according to health officials.
They said it is the most contagious variant so far. It’s already been reported in the Travis County area. However, Travis and Williamson counties recently returned to low risk from COVID-19. Hays County, on the other hand, remains at high risk.
It’s something that concerns Suhel Esani. He just opened Arabian Nights Hookah Lounge in San Marcos.
“During the first wave of COVID most of the hookah lounges in San Marcos closed down. It is going to be really hard for you to keep six-feet distance between two people when you’re coming as a group,” Esani said.
Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Texas Austin College of Natural Sciences Kaiming Bi said this new variant is the most contagious one yet.
So far, he said cases haven’t spiked in Texas but he expects that to change soon.
“The entire United States, we are almost at a peaking of XBB 1.5,” Bi said. “In Texas, about 25% of the case are related to XBB 1.5. It’ll be higher in the next weeks or next month.”
Esani is left hoping his new business can weather this new variant and any new ones that may arise in the future.
“It kind of like creates a little bit of fear in our mind cause we know what happened with the first wave so we just want it to be successful and not wash away with COVID,” Esani said.