Dallas County

North Texas Concerns Over COVID-19 Omicron Variant

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins repeats his call for indoor masks and more vaccination

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All eyes are on the latest COVID-19 variant omicron. There’s cause for concern, but not panic, and renewed efforts to get everyone vaccinated and taking precautions against community spread.

People in North Texas are watching news about the COVID-19 omicron variant closely as the holiday season continues.

President Joe Biden Monday said experts are still seeking answers about the omicron variant but it is not cause for panic and no stay-at-home recommendations are planned at this time.

His assurances helped stock markets recover some of the steep losses suffered Friday.

Financial Planner Derrick Kinney with Good Money Framework said uncertainty is what Wall Street dreads.

“Most people want to breathe a sigh of relief, not to take in a whole other dose of worry,” Kinney said. “If this were to slow things down it could be devastating for the stock market in the short term.”

But Kinney said he does not expect that to happen after the rebound Monday and other fundamentals in the current US economy.

In Dallas County, holiday shoppers are visiting stores but they are asked to do so wearing masks, while some surrounding counties have no current requirements.

“The most important thing you can do for you and your family is get vaccinated, get your booster when it's time to get it. The second most important thing you can do is wear your mask,” Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said. “These are not requirements that I made up with some political advisors. These are things that the doctors and big hospitals train their entire life to deal with in public health. This is what they say we need to do to have a good holiday season where we are healthy, where our businesses and our economy is strong.”

Jenkins said those measures are the best ways to keep roads moving and truck drivers delivering goods.

Dallas area hotels that suffered from a lack of business travelers during the pandemic might still see a rebound.

So far, International travel that recently returned to DFW Airport is still allowed. Several South African nations where the omicron variant was first detected are the only places blocked so far.

Daniel Armbruster, a spokesman with the American Automobile Association Texas Branch said there are still unanswered questions about the variant but it is not a reason to stop travel.

“Maybe discuss options such as travel insurance. That of course can give you more peace of mind and protect your investment. But certainly, it’s too soon to say I should cancel my trip or anything like that,” Armbruster said.

The AAA website includes an interactive map with detailed information about COVID-19 safety requirements for individual states and cities.

Financial Planner Derrick Kinney said investors may wish to adjust portfolios but he does not recommend leaving the arena.

“Right now, I think a diversified portfolio with a long-term perspective is an investors best friend,” Kinney said. “Buckle your seat belts. It doesn’t mean jump off the ride. It simply means buckle your seat belts because it may be a wild ride over the next several months.”

President Biden said experts vaccine providers are preparing to respond quickly with new formulas if the new variant proves to be resistant to existing shots.

On heels of President Biden’s address to the nation, a Dallas doctor says there’s good reason why COVID-19’s omicron variant has caused concern. Candace Sweat reports.

On the heels of President Biden’s address to the nation, Dr. Thomas Giordano says there’s a good reason why COVID-19’s omicron variant has caused concern.

"There’s a scientific rationale, but I also think there’ an emotional fear that this is the variant we’ve all been dreading. I don’t think there’s enough evidence to say that it is though," said Giordano.

While scientists race to learn more about the omicron, Giordano, an infectious diseases specialist at Baylor College of Medicine, said reliable data has already surfaced – like the variant's ability to mutate rapidly.

As for what this means for Texas in particular, he said testing is happening now through a process called genetic sequencing to determine whether recent positive cases contain the omicron variant.

"It does have a lot of mutations. Many more mutations than other variants that have emerged in large enough groups of people to catch our attention," he said. "omicron may well be here already because the first cases go back to early November in South Africa, so closing the borders now it may be a little late."

Researchers are still confident in the vaccine's effectiveness but expect to know with more certainty in the coming weeks.

"The proof is going to be in the pudding," said Giordano. "What do we see clinically? Do we see a higher rate of vaccine failures and will they be more severe?"

He echoes the President in his advice to remain vigilant, and trust what science will reveal in the coming days.