HARRIS COUNTY, TX – Last week, an official in Texas reported the first U.S. death related to the COVID-19 Omicron variant, although the exact cause of death is still currently unconfirmed. The announcement was initially made by Harris County Executive Lina Hidalgo via Twitter on December 20, where she noted that the individual in question had been in his 50’s and had not been vaccinated against COVID-19.
“Sad to report the first local fatality from the Omicron variant of COVID-19,” Hidalgo said. “A man in his 50’s from the eastern portion of Harris County who was not vaccinated. Please – get vaccinated and boosted.”
Numerous media outlets initially picked up on Hidalgo’s announcement, reporting the first death of a U.S. resident due to the Omicron variant, which experts say can be up to 70 times more transmissible than previous versions of COVID-19, while also widely regarded as being far more mild in terms of its symptoms overall.
Shortly afterwards, independent journalist Dan Cohen contacted Harris County Public Health’s Office of Communications, Education and Engagement, and spoke to Media Specialist Martha Marquez. Marquez confirmed that while the patient had indeed been diagnosed with the Omicron variant at the time they passed away, the exact cause of their death was still being investigated, possibly revealing that reports that the unnamed patent’s passing was directly tied to COVID-19 could have been far premature.
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Subsequent reports indicate that the patient – again, who was male, in his 50’s, and confirmed to be unvaccinated – had previously been infected with COVID-19, and had suffered a second infection after recovering. The patient was also confirmed to have had ‘underlying health conditions’ that may have contributed to his demise.
The Published Reporter reached out to the Harris County Public Health Department and reached an assistant who said that she would forward our questions to Martha Marquez and get back to us shortly. We will update this story with their response once we have it.
As of press time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the Omicron variant currently accounts for approximately 73 percent of U.S. COVID-19 infections.
Editors Note: On Monday, December 27, 2021, at approximately 3 pm, Harris County Public Health Department representative Marquez got back to us providing only a link to the original press release put out back on December 20 which sadly reveals no new detail on specifics. The statement in the press release only states the the death is/was “associated” with the COVID-19 Omicron variant.
“The death reported this afternoon was of a man between the ages of 50-60 years old who was unvaccinated and had been infected with COVID-19 previously. The individual was at higher risk of severe complications from COVID-19 due to his unvaccinated status and had underlying health conditions.”