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First cases of omicron variant confirmed in McLennan, Bell & Brazos counties

COVID-19
Posted at 12:07 PM, Dec 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-20 23:43:12-05

WACO, Texas — McLennan, Bell and Brazos counties are now reporting their first confirmed cases of the omicron variant.

The Waco-McLennan County Public Health District confirmed that one case of the variant was reported late Friday afternoon by the Texas Department of State Health Services.

The Bell County Public Health District reported one case of omicron was reported to them on Friday, and the Brazos County Public Health District on Monday confirmed one case of the variant had been reported.

No further details are available at this time, but health officials suggest that there are likely more cases than just the ones that are currently reported.

"There's no such thing as one case. There are probably others out there, we'll just have to wait until we get the word on that," said Kelly Craine, public information officer for the Waco-McLennan County Public Health District.

According to the CDC, the omicron variant will likely spread more easily than the original COVID-19 virus. Vaccines are still expected to protect against severe illness from the variant.

Experts recommend taking extra precautions if traveling or spending time with family or friends in the coming days and weeks.

“We’re blessed with some incredibly warm weather right now in Texas, so if possible, have your gatherings outside," said Baylor Scott and White Hillcrest's medical director for inpatient care, Dr. Marc Elieson. "Another thing that you can do is wear your mask."

Omicron is expected to be a much more contagious, yet milder variant, especially for those that are vaccinated. Elieson and Craine also recommend getting a vaccine or booster dose as soon as possible.

"We are seeing more cases in the community and we are starting to see a small increase in hospitalizations but probably around Christmas and New Years is when we're gonna see a big spike," Elieson said.

To find a COVID-19 vaccine in your area, you can visit the federal vaccine finder website.