A little more than a week ago, we shared a story about how the UK government had decided to withhold information about the first patient to die while being infected with the omicron variant. In the information vacuum, many critics of the UK government's strategy of withholding information, including some prominent doctors, asserted that the patient likely died with omicron, not from it, an important distinction that we have discussed in the past.
A similar scenario is apparently playing out in the US, now that authorities in Texas have confirmed their first death on a patient who was assessed to be infected with the omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2. Whether that's what actually killed him is another matter entirely.
Now, the Blaze is reporting that officials in Texas are also being tight-lipped about the circumstances of this first death, after the increasingly careless mainstream media blared out the news that an American had died "from" the omicron variant, when that's actually not the case - or at least has not yet been confirmed to be the case.
Not only did Harris County public health officials initially claim only that the man died with the Omicron variant of COVID-19, a spokeswoman for the county confirmed this is the case when a Blaze reporter followed up later in the week.
To be sure, Harris County isn't entirely blameless for the confusion. On the contrary, they seemingly added to the confusion by releasing a press release with the headline "Harris County Reports First COVID-19 Omicron Variant-Related Death." The sub-heading, however, clarified that the "unvaccinated man with underlying health conditions had tested positive for the Omicron variant."
As the Blaze adds, similar confusion has plagued mainstream media reporting throughout the pandemic. One problem is that the government health officials who are feeding the media its information often don't differentiate between people who died from COVID and those who died with the virus, a fact that we first pointed out way back in 2020 shortly after the virus first went global. Any death where a patient is COVID positive is reported as a COVID death, even if the patient died from a motorcycle accident, in one famous case.
Courtesy of the Blaze, here's a roundup of headlines that failed to convey this important distinction.
- Reuters: "Texas' Harris County records its first death linked to Omicron variant"
- Business Insider: "The first American to die of the Omicron variant was an unvaccinated Texas man who had previously caught COVID-19"
- Newsweek: "First Omicron Death in U.S. Was Reinfection—A Warning to Those Who've Already Had COVID
- KHOU-TV: "Unvaccinated man with health issues in Harris County becomes first known omicron death in US"
- Washington Post: "Unvaccinated Houston man’s death may be first attributed to omicron in U.S."
- Axios: "First confirmed U.S. Omicron death recorded in Texas"
- The Independent: "Unvaccinated Texas man first in US to die of Omicron variant"
Of course, it's understandable why officials in Harris County don't want to get into the weeds on this subject. There's simply too much risk to Dr. Anthony Fauci's (and by extension, President Joe Biden's) favored narrative.