TAMPA, Fla. - The omicron variant of COVID-19 is now in Florida. One case was detected at a hospital in Tampa and officials are working to confirm another in St. Lucie County.
Although many reported cases are mild, officials are still wanting to make sure people are vaccinated.
The state health department tweeted out on Tuesday that the CDC had confirmed a case in Florida and it appears to be the case in Tampa. VA hospital officials say this person is experiencing mild symptoms and had just returned from an international trip. It’s not known if that patient was vaccinated.
There are also several reports out of South Florida that a presumptive case has been detected in St. Lucie County. It has to be confirmed by the CDC. The CDC director said Tuesday that the omicron variant has now been detected in 19 states in the U.S. Medical leaders continue to urge people to get vaccinated and the booster shot until we learn more.
"The preliminary data demonstrates not necessarily a more serious disease. But, we don’t know that for sure because a lot of the early cases were among younger population," said Dr. Marissa Levine with the USF Center for Leadership and Public Health Practice.
Right now, 60% of Americans are considered fully vaccinated, with only about 24% of those having received booster doses.
In a news conference Tuesday, Governor Ron DeSantis vowed again he would not lock down the state in response to the new strain.
A South African doctor, who first alerted authorities to the presence of the COVID-19 omicron variant. reported that it presents "unusual but mild" symptoms.
"It presents mild disease with symptoms being sore muscles and tiredness for a day or two not feeling well," Dr. Angelique Coetzee explained. "So far, we have detected that those infected do not suffer the loss of taste or smell. They might have a slight cough. There are no prominent symptoms. Of those infected some are currently being treated at home."