HAYS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — The novel COVID-19 variant XBB 1.5 is spreading rapidly in the United States, health officials said.
They said it was the most contagious option so far. This has already been reported in Travis County. However, Travis and Williamson counties have recently returned to low risk for COVID-19. On the other hand, Hayes County remains at high risk.
This is what concerns Suhel Esani. He just opened Arabian Nights hookah in San Marcos.
“During the first wave of COVID, most hookah bars in San Marcos closed. It will be very difficult for you to keep a six-foot distance between two people when you are walking in a group,” Esani said.
University of Texas Austin College of Natural Sciences postdoctoral fellow Kaiming Bee said this new variant is the most contagious.
So far, he said, the number of cases in Texas has not increased, but he expects this to change soon.
“Across the United States, we have nearly peaked at XBB 1.5,” Bee said. “In Texas, about 25% of cases are associated with XBB 1.5. It will be higher in the coming weeks or next month.”
Esani is hopeful that his new business will be able to sustain this new option and any new ones that may come up in the future.
“It kind of creates a bit of fear in our mind because we know what happened with the first wave, so we just want it to be successful and not wash away with COVID,” Esani said.