An unvaccinated Houston man in his 50s with underlying health conditions on Monday became the first confirmed American to die from the Omicron variant of COVID-19, Fox News reported, citing Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo.
News of the first US death from Omicron came hours after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that Omicron is now the dominant version of the coronavirus in the US, accounting for 73% of new infections last week.
The CDC said its numbers showed nearly a six-fold increase in Omicron’s share of infections in only one week.
In much of the country, the variant’s prevalence is even higher, said the CDC, and is responsible for an estimated 90% of new infections in the New York area, the Southeast, the industrial Midwest and the Pacific Northwest.
On Sunday, top US pandemic advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci warned of a “bleak winter” ahead as Omicron spurs a new wave of infections globally.
"One thing that's very clear... is (Omicron's) extraordinary capability of spreading," Fauci told NBC News. "It is just... raging through to the world."
Meanwhile on Monday, Israel’s government voted to ban travel to several countries, among them the US, due to the rise in cases of COVID-19 cases.
In a vote conducted by telephone, government ministers backed Health Ministry plans to expand the list of “red countries” to include the United States, Canada, Italy, Belgium, Germany, Hungary, Morocco, Turkey, Portugal, and Switzerland.
The decision will need to be brought before the Knesset’s Constitution Committee for final approval.
If approved, the travel ban will go into effect at midnight between Tuesday and Wednesday.