Omicron variant now dominant, spreading fast in North Texas

The United States set a new record for the number of new COVID-19 infections with half a million reported Monday. That beat the old record of 300,000 in one day.

The omicron variant is driving the spike in cases across the country. It is now the dominant variant in the state and the Dallas-Fort Worth area as well, according to the scientists at UT Southwestern.

RELATED: North Texans waiting hours for COVID-19 tests as cases increase

The variant was first detected in South Africa in late November. It quickly spread across the country replacing delta, which had been the dominant variant since July.

UTSW’s COVID-19 prediction models are also showing cases will continue to increase in North Texas with 800 infections expected daily in Dallas County and more than 500 daily infections in Tarrant County by mid-January.

The percentage of tests coming back positive has also taken a big jump recently, a sign the virus is spreading rapidly.

More than 21% of tests in the state of Texas has been positive this week. By comparison, a month ago that number was just under 8% and in early November it was under 5%.

Parkland Hospital said it is once again getting overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients. Over the past week, Parkland’s COVID-related hospital admissions have nearly doubled with most of the patients being unvaccinated.

Late last month, Parkland started to scale back its hospital operation to just one COVID-19 ward. This week, the spike has forced it to reopen two more wards dedicated to just coronavirus patients.