Healthcare

Texas death believed to be first in US linked to omicron

An unvaccinated man with underlying health conditions died in Texas on Monday after testing positive for the COVID-19 omicron variant, officials in Houston said, marking what is believed to be the first death linked to the strain in the U.S.

Harris County Public Health revealed in a statement that the man, who was in his 50s and had previously been infected with COVID-19, died after contracting the omicron variant.

The county said the man was “at higher risk of severe complications from COVID-19 due to his unvaccinated status and had underlying health conditions.”

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, who is the chief executive of that county, and other officials said the death was the first local fatality from the omicron strain. According to ABC News, the death is believed to be the first known, recorded omicron-related fatality in the U.S.

County officials urged all residents to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and receive a booster shot when eligible, writing that the shots provide the best protection from the virus causing complications or death.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the patient’s family, and we extend our deepest sympathies,” Harris County Public Health Executive Director Barbie Robinson said in a statement.

“This is a reminder of the severity of COVID-19 and its variants. We urge all residents who qualify to get vaccinated and get their booster shot if they have not already,” she added.

The development came on the same day the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that the omicron variant now makes up a majority of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., with 73.2 percent of infections linking back to the highly mutated strain.

The variant was first identified in South Africa last month, but has since spread widely across the globe.

While the omicron strain is highly transmissible, experts say that individuals who are fully vaccinated and have received a booster shot are well protected against severe disease.

–Updated at 7:38 a.m.

Tags COVID-19 COVID-19 death Omicron variant Pandemic

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