DeSantis, on the same day that the first cases of omicron were reported in the state, said Floridians will continue to be able to make their own decisions about their health.
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“I have no problem if somebody is worried, if they’re scared of omicron, and they want to lock down or they want to isolate. That is absolutely their decision in a free society, but you don’t impose ‘Fauci-ism’ on the whole country or on the whole state. It’s wrong,” said DeSantis, taking a dig at Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical advisor to the president, over Fauci’s stance on how to fight COVID-19.
Health experts say they’re still in the process of gathering information about the new variant and how it affects humans.
According to state health officials, the first case of the omicron variant was discovered in a patient at James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital in Tampa.
“The patient is experiencing mild symptoms and had recently returned from international travel,” a representative 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.”
The omicron variant was first reported in South Africa and is classified as a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organization.
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 for parts of the U.S.
“Thus far, it does not look like there’s a great degree of severity to (omicron),” 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.”
Omicron cases will likely soon appear in Central Florida, too, officials said.
“We knew it was here. We’re one of the highest traveled states in the country,” Seminole County emergency manager Alan Harris said. “We believe that is a higher transmission level. We do not know the mortality of this.”