Your daily dose of Austin
Smartphone image
Make your inbox more Austin.
Local news and fun, every day 6am.
First omicron COVID-19 case found in Texas

(Pexels file photo)

The first known Texas case of the COVID-19 omicron variant was identified in a resident of Harris County, the Department of State Health Services released Monday.

The resident, a woman in her 40s, was recently diagnosed with COVID-19 and genetic sequencing this week identified she had contracted the B.1.1.529 variant. This marks the first reported case in Texas after the first U.S. case was found in California last week. Omicron is believed to be responsible for a small proportion of the current COVID cases in Texas and the U.S., DSHS said.

Omicron was labeled a "variant of concern" by the World Health Organization after it appeared to spread quickly last month in South Africa, where it was detected. It is believed to spread more quickly than other variants of the virus, reaching dozens of countries in less than a month.

It is still unclear if it is associated with more severe disease. A South African doctor previously said patients with the variant experienced "mild symptoms."

The WHO said it will take weeks to gauge the full effects of omicron, from its contagiousness to its ability to evade vaccines. Studies are currently being conducted to see how effective the current COVID vaccines are against the variant. Moderna said last month that a new vaccine that protects against the variant could be released in early 2022 if needed.

For now, DSHS Commissioner Dr. John Hellerstedt urges everyone to get vaccinated and to continue virus prevention strategies like mask wearing, social distancing and getting tested if you have symptoms. The Delta variant, that caused a summer surge locally, continues to be the main concern locally with most cases driven by it.

"It’s normal for viruses to mutate, and given how quickly Omicron spread in southern Africa, we’re not surprised that it showed up here," he said.


A big announcement from Austonia

Howdy, and happy holidays.

I have some big news for you.

Austonia is now part of 6AM City, a fast-growing network of hyper-local newsletters across the country.

I’m proud to be telling you this, because 6AM City’s mission is very much like Austonia’s — a daily morning update on events, things-to-do and news, with an underlying mission of community building in the cities they serve.

If you’re not already subscribed, 6AM City’s Austin newsletter is called ATXtoday. One of its city editors is Laura Figi, who you’ll remember for her previous great work on Austonia’s newsletter.

I’ve been reading ATXtoday every day since it launched last year.

Starting this week, you’ll receive ATXtoday every morning and I’m confident it will become part of your daily wake up routine. Be sure to add to your contact list (how to do that here).

Meantime let me thank you for your readership and support of Austonia, and convey my wishes for a great holiday season for you and those close to you.

Thank you,

Mark Dewey

Austonia CEO

Tito's releases (not so?) ugly sweater line for the holidays, profits to charity

Tito's Handmade Vodka

Show your love for Tito's and for the community this year with a wide selection of not that ugly, uglyish, ugly, uglier, and ugliest holiday sweaters.

There's lots choose from, and plenty of accessories like scarves and socks, plus gear for your dog, too.

All of the items can be purchased online or at the Love, Tito’s Retail Store in Austin, TX. 100% of all net proceeds from online or in-store purchases go to one of the nonprofits we’ve teamed up with.

Click here to see the entire collection in the Tito's store.