WACO, Texas — Cases of COVID-19 have dropped drastically across Central Texas, including in McLennan County.
Local health experts say the lower numbers are a good sign, but it's not time to stop precautions yet.
"We're excited to see our numbers decreasing, but it's still a little too early to say if we are out of the woods," said Lashonda Malrey-Horne, director of the McLennan County Health District.
Texas saw a record spike in COVID cases after the omicron variant was first identified in early December.
"That spike we had right after the Christmas holidays was directly related to the omicron variant that became the most common variant in the state," Malrey-Horne said.
"We know that variant is much more contagious than the previous delta variant and the variants prior so it passed easier from person to person."
While that variant is still active in our communities, the number of cases has dropped recently.
"Hospitals are all seeing fewer COVID cases, but the numbers are still higher than they were a couple of months ago and it still puts a strain on the system," said Dr. Greg Phillips.
Dr. Phillips, who has been an internal medicine doctor for 40 years, said these last few months have been some of the most stressful for him and his co-workers.
"Just the logistics of getting things that people need - the PPE, the supplies, the staffing that they need," he said.
"When people are working longer and longer hours, it makes it challenging. People who come to the hospital with illnesses other than COVID are impacted because they don't get the level of care they would be getting if there weren't so many COVID cases in the hospital."
To help those hospitals from staying full and to protect yourself from getting sick, health experts still recommend wearing a mask, washing your hands often and getting vaccinated.