Cases of Omicron found in Bell County and McLennan County

Omicron variant of COVID-19
Omicron variant of COVID-19(WCAX)
Published: Dec. 20, 2021 at 12:43 PM CST
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - Cases of the COVID-19 variant Omicron have been found in Bell and McLennan County.

Baylor Scott & White confirmed Friday that there is at least one case in both counties, but there isn’t any cases at it’s hospitals in Waco and Temple.

Waco-McLennan County Public Health District said it was notified late Friday of the county’s first positive case.

Officials with both the Bell and McLennan County health departments say their biggest concern right now is determining who may have come in contact with these first few cases so that they can properly track the variant in the coming days.

Kelly Crain, public information director for the McLennan County public health department, says she expects cases to rise quickly.

“It’s highly contagious,” she said.

“It can spread for one to two days as opposed to four or five days with Delta. We’ve seen examples in New York where it just started expanding rapidly. So, we know when it’s here with one case, there’s gonna be so many more that pop up.”

While the COVID vaccine is effective, Crain still recommends a booster shot to be completely safe.

“Omicron can have breakthrough cases, more so than Delta and the original COVID-19,” she said.

“With that being said, getting vaccinated helps you recover very quickly and that can be the difference between really suffering for weeks, or just having mild symptoms and getting back to normal. It’s the difference in surviving a car crash... your odds are gonna be better if you have your seatbelt on.”

However, many Central Texans remain reluctant to get a booster shot because of the side effects they’ve had after their second shot or the side effects they’ve heard about the booster. Marc Elieson with Baylor Scott & White says he understands their concern, but it’s too risky if you don’t get vaccinated at all.

“The way the vaccines work is that they’re trying to mimic the virus,” he said.

“So, your body’s going to respond to it the same way if you got the disease. Not everyone will have symptoms. In fact, a majority of people who get vaccinated don’t have symptoms.”

With thousands already hitting the roads for Christmas, Elieson says that it might be best to get tested before seeing loved ones. As for the vaccine and booster shots, he recommends getting it while off work and to take Tylenol if symptoms like fever or chills occur.

“We are seeing people that are vaccinated getting Omicron, but very few of those people are getting hospitalized,” he said.

“So, if you haven’t received your vaccines, get them. Remember, it takes around two weeks for it to become effective, so you’ll have to start now. You can’t wait until Omicron is knocking on your neighbor’s door to go get your vaccine.”

The McLennan County public health department adds it’ll take weeks to determine if this variant is more dangerous than previous ones, but says taking extra safety measures while traveling can make a big difference.

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