Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner announced Friday he has COVID 19, putting him among a rising number of infections as the omicron strain of the virus begins to sweep the country.
“I was not feeling well overnight and thought I was suffering from allergies or a sinus infection, so I decided to get tested before starting my daily schedule,” Turner said in a statement released by his office.
Turner said he received his confirmation of the infection Friday afternoon. The specific strain of the virus infecting the mayor was not released. As with other recent cases among people less at risk, Turner reported his symptoms were mild.
“I will spend the next several days isolating myself at home and getting some rest,” he said.
Turner is vaccinated, received a booster in late October or early November and has spoken repeatedly about the value of the vaccines and the need for Houston residents to get vaccinated.
“Mayor Turner has been a steadfast partner in our work to address COVID-19 and to educate our community about the urgency of getting vaccinated,” Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said in a statement. “I’m happy to hear his symptoms are mild and am looking forward to seeing him back out and about soon.”
Turner will follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention protocols for isolating after a positive test, city officials said. CDC recommends anyone who tests positive — even those who are vaccinated — should isolate for 10 days, using the first full day of symptoms as a starting point. For Turner, that means if his mild symptoms do not worsen or go away entirely, Dec. 27.
“The mayor is a living example of the way to manage this,” [city of Houston chief medical officer Dr. David] Persse said.
Maybe this is omicron and maybe it’s not, but the reality is that with omicron more people who have been vaccinated will still catch COVID. The difference is that they will be much more likely to have a mild case that won’t require anything more than rest at home. The one bit of good news so far from Europe and South Africa is that while the case rates are skyrocketing, the hospitalization and death rates are not. The vaccine, especially when coupled with a booster or a previous infection, really makes the difference. Get your booster if you haven’t yet, y’all.