News for North Texas
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Experts say omicron variant not top concern in Dallas this holiday season — delta is

PCCI CEO Steve Miff says he does not anticipate omicron will be a dominant strain in the Dallas area for six to 12 weeks.

The Parkland Center for Clinical Innovation in Dallas County (PCCI) has been tracking COVID-19 data since March 2020, including the new omicron variant recently found in Texas.

However, omicron is not their top concern in North Texas this holiday season, according to the group’s CEO, Steve Miff.

“Relative to omicron, we anticipate that we're not going to see that to be a dominant strain in the Dallas area in Texas for the next six to 12 weeks,” Miff said. “So we're still going to have need to have our guard up relative to delta.”

While the omicron variant is still new, Miff said there are a few things that the group knows for sure: it spreads faster than any other variant.

“Just to put in perspective what we're talking about is, about 3.5% reproduction rate versus a 1.5% rate with Delta, so significantly higher,” Miff told KERA News.

The group also found that the omicron variant is potentially less severe, causing fewer hospital admissions it tracked in Dallas County.

Additionally, PCCI predicts that vaccine effectiveness appears to be lower in terms of disease protection over time, specifically in regards to the omicron variant.

However, immunity does grow stronger with booster shots.

As of Monday morning, the Parkland Center found only 11% of Dallas County’s population has received booster shots, and 10% of the population have no immunity – meaning they have not been previously infected or vaccinated. Also, roughly 300,000 people are only partially vaccinated.

“What we anticipate through the holidays, and what we anticipate even through January, we believe that we will see an increase in hospitalizations and arrivals for those that are infected with COVID,” Miff said. “Between now and the end of January, probably a size increase of 42%. Again, mostly driven by the Delta variant, and not a significant impact from omicron.”

Hospital administrators advise people to get fully vaccinated and get a booster shot.

“If you've had one shot but have not completed the second, get that second shot,” Miff said. “Say if you've had both shots, and it's been a while since you received the second one, definitely get the booster shot as well. So everybody should elevate the level of protection that you currently have and take that action as soon as possible.”

Got a tip? Email Haya Panjwani at Follow Haya on Twitter @hayapanjw

KERA News is made possible through the generosity of our members. If you find this reporting valuable, consider making a tax-deductible gift today. Thank you.

Haya Panjwani is a general assignment reporter for KUT. She also served as a legislative fellow for The Texas Newsroom during the 2021 legislative session.