BELL COUNTY, Texas — Local health officials in both McLennan and Bell Counties have confirmed their first case of the COVID-19 variant, Omicron.
6 News was able to confirm that both cases were reported on Friday, Dec. 17, but no other information has been released at this time.
The news comes just as the Center for Disease Control (CDC) announced Omicron is now the dominant variant in the United States.
According to the CDC, Omicron now accounts for 73% of all new COVID-19 cases in the United States. This comes from data gathered by the CDC last week, which also found that the Delta variant only accounts for 26% of new cases in the United States.
Omicron has surrounded Central Texas for weeks, with the Brazos Valley also confirming its first case of the variant last week.
On Monday, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo also confirmed the first death from the variant. The man was 50 years old with underlying health conditions and was not vaccinated.
Early data from the CDC suggests the Omicron variant is not as severe, with most people only having mild symptoms. However, the variant is more transmissible and is more likely to have breakout cases.
In addition to its transmissibility, both Pfizer and Moderna have released data showing their original two doses of the vaccine are not as effective against Omicron.
The CDC recommends anyone who is eligible get their booster shot do so at least six months after their second dose. The booster shots have shown increased antibody levels which increase an individual's protection against both Omicron and Delta variants.