Hidalgo County confirms 8 new omicron variant cases

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Editor’s note: This story has been updated throughout.

Hidalgo County health officials on Thursday confirmed eight more cases of the omicron variant within the county. State officials also identified a sub-variant within that case count.

However, both Hidalgo County Health and Human Services Chief Administrative Officer Eddie Olivarez and Hidalgo County Health Authority Dr. Ivan Melendez say that the sub-variants are nothing to be concerned about.

Because viruses need a host in order to survive, it’s possible that small mutations can occur. Those mutations can lead to these sub-variants.

"It just identifies it as a slightly different version of omicron,” Olivarez said. “As you know, viruses are constantly mutating and changing."

While the sub-variation is labeled as a version of omicron that’s not of clinical significance, Dr. Melendez said that these changes are a part of their nature.

"The virus continues to mutate. The virus continues to change,” said Dr. Melendez. “So even the delta, the omicron — they will continue to change as long as it's alive.”

Those changes are happening at a time as hospitalizations are slowly rising. Hospital officials throughout the county say that they are currently holding up, but Dr. Melendez said many of those inside are exhausted.

“Yeah, we’re tired. Now, are we at a breaking point? Well some people are broken, but most of us are just bending, but this cannot go infinitely,” Dr. Melendez said. “And so we ask once again for everyone to do their part. Right now, when you go to the hospital, you're going to see a lot of tired folks.”

Health experts again remind the public that the COVID-19 vaccine is a resource that offers protection to keep communities safe.

"We don't know what the future holds. This might be the last one, or there might be many more to come. We don't know,” Olivarez said.

Dr. Melendez says 90 percent of the COVID-19 cases he’s seeing inside area hospitals are preventable.

Last week, five cases of the omicron variant were confirmed in the county.

The eight new cases reported Thursday bring the total cases of the omicron variant in Hidalgo County to 14.

On Thursday, the county health department reported 320 new cases of COVID-19. The county also previously reported a backlog of more than 18,000 COVID cases between Dec. 23 and Jan. 10.


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