Omicron variant infecting at least 9 people in Houston area

HOUSTON – From the limited data we have on the Omicron variant, it appears to be highly transmissible.

What’s not known yet is whether that will pose a bigger danger.

“Beyond transmissible, as far as severity or outcomes, it’s still really too early to tell in the U.S.,” said medical director of diagnostic microbiology at Houston Methodist Dr. Wesley Long.

Houston Methodist is one of few local places that do genome sequencing, meaning they test patients for the variant they’re infected with, because they do know for sure there are at least nine patients sick with the Omicron variant in our area.

Long won’t say, due to patient privacy, if those patients are hospitalized or just received testing through one of their hospitals, urgent care facilities, or primary care doctors.

Obtaining that information is important as the country is waiting to determine if another dangerous surge is coming. However, Long said severe outcomes can take weeks to develop, and therefore he thinks it’s too soon for officials to make any statements on that.

Right now, according to SETRAC and the 25 counties it monitors, there are 530 hospitalized COVID patients.

That’s only 4.7% of all hospital beds across the southeast region.

For comparison, on Sept. 8t, there were 1,055 patients.