Dec. 24. 2021 -- The first confirmed death from the Omicron variant in the U.S. was a reinfection.

The man, who was in his 50s and lived in Harris County, Texas, was unvaccinated and had previously been infected with COVID-19. He recently contracted the virus again, and it was confirmed as the Omicron variant.

Harris County health officials also said he faced a higher risk for severe complications because of underlying health conditions and being unvaccinated.

“This is a reminder of the severity of COVID-19 and its variants. We urge all residents who qualify to get vaccinated and get their booster shot if they have not already,” Barbie Robinson, executive director of Harris County Public Health, said in a statement.

The announcement came on the same day the CDC said the Omicron variant had become the country’s most dominant strain of the virus and now accounts 73% of new cases.

In some parts of the country, the share of Omicron cases is even higher than the nationwide average. The CDC estimated that Omicron makes up more than 90% of new cases in parts of the Northeast, Northwest, South and Southeast.

The Omicron variant has now pushed daily coronavirus case counts higher than the peak of the Delta variant wave.

The variant is causing “near-vertical case growth” in multiple cities across the United States, including New York City, Chicago, the District of Columbia, Houston, New Orleans and Miami. Case counts are doubling every two to three days, the newspaper reported, with more record-breaking days expected in the next week.

Public health officials are encouraging people to get COVID-19 vaccinations and booster shots — and not rely on natural immunity to protect them.

“The truth is that we could be looking at a Category 5 hurricane or a tropical storm,” Julie Swann, a professor at North Carolina State University who advised the CDC during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, told The New York Times.

“But we have to prepare for the possibility of that Category 5 hurricane,” she said.

Show Sources

Newsweek: “First Omicron Death in U.S. Was Reinfection – A Warning to Those Who’ve Already Had COVID.”

Harris County Public Health: “Harris County Reports First COVID-19 Omicron Variant-Related Death.”

CDC: “COVID-19 Variant Proportions.”

The New York Times: “Omicron Drives U.S. Virus Cases Past Delta’s Peak.”

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