Late Monday, the Houston Health Department announced wastewater samples showed the presence of Omicron at eight of the city's 39 wastewater treatment plants. And Harris County Public Health reported its first confirmed case of the Omicron variant in a Northwest Harris County woman.
While no case of the new COVID-19 variant has been confirmed in any person the city of Houston yet, the detection indicates that it is, in fact, here.
Little is known about Omicron — whether it is more transmissible or causes more serious illness than earlier variants of the coronavirus. Or whether the COVID vaccines people have already received protect against the latest mutation.
But the woman in her 40s is fully vaccinated and had not traveled recently. according to the county health department.
According to the city press release, the plants where Omicron was detected include W.C.I.D. #111, Chocolate Bayou, Keegans Bayou, Metro Central, Northgate, Sims Bayou North, Turkey Creek and West District. Health officials analyze wastewater because people with COVID-19 shed the virus in their feces.
"The Houston Health Department and Houston Water continue to do an exceptional job tracking the impact of the virus in our community. While no specific case of the Omicron variant has been confirmed in an individual in the city of Houston, we should use this information as a reminder to get fully vaccinated, including a booster shot," said Mayor Sylvester Turner. "Vaccines help protect us, our loved ones, friends, and colleagues in the work environment. As the holidays approach, I encourage everyone to remain vigilant about their health and safety."
“Omicron in Houston is cause for concern but not panic,” said Dr. David Persse, chief medical officer for the City of Houston. “It’s important to remember that vaccination is our best tool to reduce cases, prevent serious illness and death, and slow the emergence of new variants.”
“If you are not yet fully vaccinated, please do it now to protect yourself, your family, and our community,” said Persse. “If you are 18 years or older and it’s been six months since your second dose of Moderna or Pfizer or two months since the single dose of Johnson & Johnson, please get your booster shot.”