Texas announces first detected case of omicron variant in Harris County

Texas

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — Officials in Harris County confirmed on Monday evening Texas’ first detected case of the omicron variant of COVID-19.

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo posted to social media the variant was found in a woman in her 40s from the northwest part of the county. She had no recent travel history.

“The best way to protect ourselves and our community from this virus is to get vaccinated & boosted,” Hidalgo wrote on Twitter.

The Texas Department of State Health Services sent out an alert Monday evening, saying the woman “was recently diagnosed with COVID-19.” The case is being looked at by Harris County Public Health and DSHS.

DSHS Commissioner Dr. John Hellerstedt said in a statement “it’s normal for viruses to mutate,” and he’s not surprised omicron has shown up in Texas. He encouraged people to take safety measures against COVID-19, including getting vaccinated.

“Getting vaccinated and continuing to use prevention strategies, including wearing a mask when you are around people you don’t live with, social distancing, handwashing and getting tested when you have symptoms, will help slow the spread of the virus and help end the pandemic,” Hellerstedt said.

The omicron variant, formally known as the B.1.1.529 variant, has been making headlines this month after being discovered in South Africa in late November. The first case in the U.S. was detected in California on Dec. 1.

DSHS said while it “appears to spread more easily from person to person” than most strains of the virus, it’s unclear if omicron produces more severe illness. Studies are currently underway to figure out how effective current COVID-19 vaccines are against omicron.

Learn how you can get vaccinated online here.

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