WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — The Wichita Falls-Wichita County Public Health District reported Thursday, January 20, 1 new COVID-19 related death.

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The patient, aged in their 80’s, bring the total number of COVID-19 related deaths in Wichita County since the pandemic began in March 2020 to 517.

Eleven COVID-19 related deaths have been reported so far this week.

The Health District also reported Thursday 445 new COVID-19 cases in the county, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in Wichita County to date to 29,635.

So far this week in Wichita County, there have been 1,865 new COVID-19 cases confirmed.

The Health District also reported Thursday 104 hospitalizations in Wichita County, 16 higher than the 88 hospitalizations reported Tuesday, January 18.

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Lou Kreidler, Director of Public Health, said in January 4’s Wichita Falls City Council meeting the spike in cases is likely due to the omicron variant.

“Even though we haven’t identified it yet through sequence testing here in our community, I can almost guarantee that omicron is here in our community,” Kreidler said.

Kreidler said in most vaccinated patients, omicron is proving to be a milder disease, causing fewer deaths and hospitalizations overall.

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“We’re seeing a lot of spread,” Kreidler said. “I expect we’ll continue to see a spike of cases in our community, especially given our vaccination rate is so low.”