Omicron declared dominant variant in US, Houston businesses and events shut down due to surge in COVID cases

Harris County officials are reporting the first Omicron-related death locally. 

Authorities say the victim was a man in his 50s, who was not vaccinated and had underlying health conditions. 


On Monday, Judge Lina Hidalgo raised the COVID-19 threat level to orange as cases surge.  

The CDC has also now declared Omicron as the dominant variant in the U.S., accounting for 73% of COVID-19 cases last week.   

RELATED: CDC data: Omicron now dominant COVID-19 variant in US

The infections caused several businesses and events to shut down this weekend. 

"Thursday night, we got all exposed, and it wasn't just like one person. It was like four or five people who tested positive that were in the bar, that had contacted all of us, so I was like, we got to shut it down," said Mary Ellen Angel, the owner of Angel Share HTX.


Angel Share HTX was just one of several Houston businesses who had to shut down this weekend over COVID-19 concerns. 

Since opening in June, the downtown charity bar hasn’t had a scare like this before. 

"It costs a significant amount of money for us to shut down especially for the whole weekend. But it's better to shut down for one weekend than shut down for weeks and weeks, so I felt like this was the right decision," Angel said. 

After all staffers tested negative, Angel Share HTX reopened its doors Monday afternoon.

RELATED: Moderna: COVID booster effective against omicron in tests, will still develop new shot

However, other COVID-related shutdowns in the city might last longer than the weekend.  

Multiple live performances of The Little Mermaid at the Hobby Center and A Christmas Carol at the Alley Theatre were canceled. 

Rice University has postponed two men’s basketball games. 

Restaurants like Squabble, Georgia James and Nobie's are closed for several days. 

Dr. David Persse, Houston’s Chief Medical Officer, says the increasing number of cases and hospitalizations are concerning. 

"For Harris County, we've seen that the number of patients admitted, who are known to have COVID, on December 10, just 10 days ago was 204. And here we are 10 days later, it's 319; so that has gone up quite a bit," Persse said. 


According to the Houston Health Dept, the latest 14-day average COVID-19 positive rate stands at 7.8%, up from 4.8% last week and 4.3% two weeks ago. 

Persse recommends folks get a rapid test the morning of their holiday celebrations.  

"If everyone in attendance does a rapid test that morning then if anybody tests positive, then that means that not only are they infected, but they're likely able to spread the virus. So you may want for them to not participate if you have an elder person or somebody who's an organ transplant or anybody who you're concerned about," Persse said.