Omicron: Texas confirms 1st case of COVID-19 variant

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas — Texas reported its first COVID-19 infection involving the omicron variant late Monday.

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Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo confirmed via Twitter that a woman in her 40s living in the northwest part of the county who had not traveled recently tested positive for the emergent variant of the virus.

“It’s normal for viruses to mutate, and given how quickly omicron spread in southern Africa, we’re not surprised that it showed up here,” Dr. John Hellerstedt, commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services, stated in a news release obtained by The Associated Press.

After Hidalgo’s announcement, Houston health officials announced the variant had been found in wastewater at eight of the city’s 39 treatment plants, KHOU reported.

“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 added.

According to state health data, only 18.5% of fully vaccinated Texans have gotten a booster shot, The Texas Tribune reported.

Meanwhile, Texas hospitals are “still in the throes of a staffing shortage after two years of deadly surges and a summer wave of deaths and hospitalizations that saw record numbers of ICUs filled to capacity,” the newspaper reported.

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-- The Associated Press contributed to this report.