Dec 2, 2021 - COVID

What the Omicron variant means for Austin

A photo of COVID vaccines in a bin.
Photo: Matthew Busch/Bloomberg via Getty Images

No confirmed cases of the Omicron variant have been detected in Travis County, but laboratories across the U.S. are on the lookout as the CDC confirmed the country's first-known case in California on Wednesday.

What they're saying: Local health officials are urging residents to get their COVID-19 vaccines and booster shots, if eligible.

  • It's too soon to tell what impact the variant will have on the Austin-Travis County area, health officials say, but the Delta variant currently accounts for more than 99% of reported cases.

In a new FAQ page for the Omicron variant, Travis County health officials said they "know the Omicron variant will appear locally."

  • All positive tests are reported to Austin Public Health, but testing does not identify a specific variant. Positive tests must be sent to a specialized lab to identify the genomic sequencing of the variant, per Austin health officials.
  • Researchers are still learning about the severity of Omicron compared to other variants. Unvaccinated people remain the most at risk of contracting COVID-19.

Yes, but: Vaccination status largely depends on political affiliation.

A poll released Wednesday found that 1 out of every 4 registered voters identifying as either Republicans or independents in Texas likely won't get vaccinated against COVID-19.

  • The poll conducted this fall by the Texas Hispanic Policy Foundation found that 25% of registered voters identifying as Republicans and 24% identifying as independents said they did not plan to get vaccinated, compared to just 6% of Democrats.
  • Overall, 18% of respondents said they do not plan to get vaccinated.
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