HOUSTON (KIAH) — Harris County reported its first COVID-19 death due to the omicron variant, which has become the dominant strain of the coronavirus in the last few days in the U.S.

According to the Harris County health department, the death reported on Monday afternoon was of a man between the ages of 50-60, who was unvaccinated and had been infected with COVID-19 previously. The man also had underlying health conditions.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the patient’s family, and we extend our deepest sympathies,” said Barbie Robinson, the executive director of Harris County Health. “This is a reminder of the severity of COVID-19 and its variants. We urge all residents who qualify to get vaccinated and get their booster shot if they have not already.”

The spread of the variant has also led Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo to raise the county’s COVID threat level from yellow, or moderate, to orange, the second-highest threat level.

Hidalgo strongly urged her residents in the county to get vaccinated with the booster shots as soon as possible. She also encouraged everyone to wear masks and get tested before attending holiday events.

“Unfortunately, the Omicron variant has arrived in Harris County in full force,” Hidalgo said in a statement. “These trends are understandably frustrating – especially as we close out the year with friends and family.  But we can still blunt the force of this latest wave if we take action.

“As we approach Christmas and New Year’s, consider giving yourself and your family the gift of health by getting your booster, getting tested before any gatherings of people outside of your household, and wearing a mask. It could very well save your life or that of a loved one.”