Florida identifies first confirmed cases of omicron variant in the state

First case identified in Tampa area VA hospital

The Florida Department of Health confirmed on Tuesday doctors have identified the first confirmed instance of the omicron variant in the state.

According to the state, the person found with the variant was a patient at James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital in Tampa.

“The patient is experiencing mild symptoms and had recently returned from international travel,” a spokesperson for the hospital said in a statement. “Our providers were able to quickly detect, test, confirm and add this data to our developing understanding of this strain.”

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The health department added that health officials, “conducted contact tracing to identify possible exposures and advise on necessary isolation and quarantine protocols.”

In addition to the Tampa patient, the Tampa Bay Times reports that there is a second patient with the omicron variant in St. Lucie County who test positive on Monday.

No additional information has been made available about the patients who may have been exposed.

The omicron variant was first reported in South Africa and is classified as a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organization.

So far, it is still unclear what impact the omicron variant will have on the global pandemic; however, U.S. health officials said Sunday that while the omicron variant of the coronavirus is rapidly spreading throughout the country, early indications suggest it may be less dangerous than delta, which continues to drive a surge of hospitalizations.

“Thus far, it does not look like there’s a great degree of severity to it,” Fauci said. “But we have really got to be careful before we make any determinations that it is less severe or it really doesn’t cause any severe illness, comparable to delta.”

“We knew it was here. We’re one of the highest traveled states in the country,” Seminole County emergency manager Alan Harris.

Harris said there is a lot of unknown with omicron.

“We believe that is a higher transmission level. We do not know the mortality of this.”

About the Author:

Thomas Mates is a digital storyteller for News 6 and ClickOrlando.com. He also produces the podcast Florida Foodie. Thomas is originally from Northeastern Pennsylvania and worked in Portland, Oregon before moving to Central Florida in August 2018. He graduated from Temple University with a degree in Journalism in 2010.