Comal County health officials confirm first local cases of omicron variant after reporting more than 1,000 new cases since Jan. 3

Though only two cases of the omicron variant have been confirmed in Comal County, health officials say the majority of local cases are likely caused by the variant.  (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Though only two cases of the omicron variant have been confirmed in Comal County, health officials say the majority of local cases are likely caused by the variant. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

Though only two cases of the omicron variant have been confirmed in Comal County, health officials say the majority of local cases are likely caused by the variant. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

On Jan. 7, Comal County reported 266 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the county total to 22,285 since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020.

Between Jan. 3-7 the county reported 1,084 new local cases of the coronavirus, the largest weekly total ever recorded.

Due to a November change in reporting entity, the county no longer receives breakdowns of confirmed and probable cases, recoveries or active case counts.

The county also reported its first two confirmed cases of the omicron variant, though officials said it is likely the highly contagious variant accounts for the majority of all new cases.

“Public health has received two confirmed cases of the omicron variant. That doesn’t mean there are only two cases of the variant, it just means that two of the samples submitted for variant testing were positive for the omicron variant,” Comal County Epidemiologist Connie Alaniz said in a press release. “Identifying a variant requires additional testing, which is done on a random sample of specimens sent to public health laboratories. According to DSHS, the omicron variant now accounts for the majority of COVID-19 cases in the United States, so if you have a positive COVID-19 test, it is likely the omicron variant.”

A Jan. 5 press release from the city announced the temporary closure of a COVID-19 testing site that was previously operating at New Braunfels City Hall as a result of the rising number of local cases.


“Due to the rapid spread of the omicron variant, unfortunately our staff has been exposed,” said Terra Williams, Curative’s Texas Director of Growth, in the press release. “We will temporarily be closing the site. We are doing this to contain any potential risk and spread to the community.”

The city contracted with Curative Labs in April 2021 to provide free testing in the city hall parking lot.

A reopening date has not been set and residents seeking testing are encouraged to contact their primary care physician, a local pharmacy or visit the Texas Department of State Health Services’ testing location website.

Since Jan. 3, three coronavirus-related deaths were reported in the county, all of which were residents of New Braunfels who passed away during the last week of December. A total of 486 coronavirus-related deaths of county residents have been reported.

Comal County hospitals on Jan. 7 reported caring for 39 COVID-19 patients, up from 16 on Dec. 29.

Eight of the patients were in intensive care and four were on ventilators as of Jan. 7. According to the county, 81% of the patients in county hospitals with COVID-19 are not fully vaccinated.

As of Jan. 7, 90,865, or 61.90%, of Comal County residents are fully vaccinated and 31,303 have received a booster dose.

Those interested in being vaccinated can visit the state DSHS website or speak to their primary care provider for information and to schedule an appointment.

COVID-19 testing sites are available throughout the region and many area pharmacies and health care providers offer vaccination appointments. Home testing kits are also available at some in-person and online retailers.

Residents can view a list of vaccine providers on the DSHS website or use the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ online search tool to find a testing site.
By Lauren Canterberry

Reporter, New Braunfels

Lauren joined Community Impact Newspaper as a reporter in October 2019. After graduating with a degree in journalism from the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia, Lauren was a freelance journalist and worked as a college English teacher in China. At CI, Lauren covers education, local government, transportation, business, real estate development and nonprofits in New Braunfels.