AUSTIN, Texas — Positive cases of omicron have reached at least 18 states since its discovery in California a week ago, and now in Texas. A handful of the people who tested positive did not have any travel history, suggesting community spread.

Health experts say it’s only a matter of time before it spreads to every state.

What You Need To Know

  • Omicron variant has spread to at least 17 states in US since the first week of December
  • Many of the positive cases in the US were people who were vaccinated or boosted

  • Texas has a nearly 60% vaccination rate, about the same as the national percentage
  • Doctors say omicron is more contagious and Texans need to be extra cautious

The Texas medical community is responding to this new variant with vigilance. Dr. Guadalupe Zamora says omicron is a serious concern. His East Austin family practice started seeing patients in the parking lot even before the delta outbreak this summer. He says if we don’t act now, omicron could be just as bad or worse.

“We are worried because it is very contagious. It does spread from person to person very quickly,” Dr. Zamora said.  

Since the omicron was detected in the U.S., Dr. Zamora says more patients have come in to get tested. He says it’s too soon to tell if it will make you sicker, but the same rules apply.

“We’re going to ask people to still be very very cautious and use the CDC guidelines as best they can,“ he said.

That means following the CDC guidelines and getting vaccinated or boosted. CDC numbers show nearly 60% of the U.S. is vaccinated. In Texas, it’s about the same percentage. In many of omicron cases in the U.S., those who tested positive were vaccinated, boosted and had very mild cases.

Dr. Zamora says it’s important for people to understand the boosters and vaccines are the reason those cases were mild, but does not mean omicron is not a virulent variant.

Dr. Guadalupe Zamora walks to receptionist desk. (Spectrum News 1/Jamil Donith)

“I know this is the holiday season, we want to see our families, but please be careful,” he said.

Dr. Zamora says if you’re going to meet with someone that isn’t vaccinated, make them get tested first. At his office, staff will continue a strict locked door policy, as well as treating people with possible infections outside.

“It will keep our building, and our staff, and our patients well,” Dr. Zamora said.

Without mask or vaccine mandates, doctors like Zamora are doing everything in their power to protect the community from this new threat.

He says these variants will keep coming. It’s up to us to be prepared when they do.