ORLANDO, Fla. – U.S. government and health leaders are working to combat the omicron variant cropping up across the country.
The latest COVID-19 variant was first detected in South Africa, where its presence drove a dramatic surge in cases from 200 a day in mid-November to more than 16,000 on Friday. In response, the U.S., along with several other counties, restricted travel to South Africa.
Since health leaders initially discovered the variant, omicron has been identified in around two dozen other nations, including the U.S., where the first case was confirmed in California on Nov. 29.
It has also infected people in New York, Minnesota, Colorado and Hawaii. Some had traveled, to places like South Africa and a Manhattan anime convention, while others had no recent travel history.
While no omicron cases have been reported in Florida as of yet, local and state health officials are preparing to deal with the variants.
Altamonte Springs city leaders, for instance, are currently in the process of developing a test to detect omicron in sewage. They hope to determine if the omicron variant exists within parts of Orange and Seminole counties as soon as next week.
This comes as President Joe Biden announced a more aggressive vaccine campaign on Thursday, which promises a more accessible rollout of boosters and vaccines countrywide that doesn’t impede on everyday life.
Biden said the expansive plan will offer more vaccine hours and locations, greater efforts to encourage eligible Americans to receive boosters and kids 5 and up to receive vaccines through walk-in appointments at various pharmacies and accessible at-home testing covered by private insurance plans.
The federal administration is encouraging people young and old to get vaccinated by offering family clinics and rides for seniors in need of their boosters.
Central Florida leaders are already doing their part to integrate the federal vaccine movement on the local level by offering more inclusive vaccination hours and methods.
Below is a breakdown of Florida COVID-19 data reported by the state on Dec. 3:
The Florida Department of Health reported 10,892 new cases on Friday that occurred between Nov. 26 and Dec. 1, bringing the state’s overall total to 3,697,523 cases since the virus was first detected on March 1, 2020. That is an average of 1,552 new infections reported per day.
Even though the Florida DOH released numbers once a week, the state is still reporting daily infections to the CDC. Below is the CDC daily number, which is 24 hours behind.
Florida reported 35 new virus-related deaths Friday from the past week but the cumulative death toll of 61,548 actually shows there have been 153 new deaths added to the state total. The state has not provided any information as to when these deaths occurred.
The state stopped reporting the number of non-residents who died in Florida with its new weekly reporting method.
The state Agency for Health Care Administration deleted its current COVID-19 hospitalization database and the state is no longer reporting how many patients have been hospitalized with the virus. However, Florida is still required to report that information to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the CDC continues to release that information online. The most recent hospital numbers show 960 adult and 19 pediatric patients in Florida.
The DOH reported the percent of positive results from coronavirus tests was 2.5% but did not provide how many people were tested during the past week. Health officials say the rate should remain between 5% and 10% to prove a community has a hold of the virus and is curbing infections.
The Florida Department of Health began releasing a daily report in December 2020 on COVID-19 vaccines administered throughout the state. In the new weekly reports, the state is combining the vaccination data with the COVID-19 infection numbers.
FDOH reports 9,568,305 people are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. These individuals either received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine or completed a two-shot series.
During the past week, 101,032 new people have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine.
Central Florida region
The state is no longer providing a breakdown of county-by-county deaths or hospitalizations as of June 3. The Florida DOH is also no longer providing county numbers for non-residents who have tested positive, causing the total case numbers to drop significantly, in some counties by more than 1,000 cases.
For example, with non-resident positive cases as of June 3, Orange County had reported a total of 143,198 but with the state’s new reporting method, the county has 141,941 total cases, a difference of 1,257 positive cases.
Below is the Central Florida region breakdown of new cases and new vaccination numbers between Nov. 19 - Nov. 25, 2021.
|County||Total cases as of Nov. 25||New cases since Nov. 19||Total people vaccinated||Percent of 5+ population vaccinated|