Omicron variant detected in Altamonte Springs sewer area

Sample detected Thursday, city manager says

ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla. – The omicron variant has been detected in the Altamonte Sewer Service Area, according to Altamonte Springs city manager Franklin W. Martz.

The sample was taken on Thursday, Martz said.

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Martz added that the city’s COVID-19 predictive model can sometimes detect virus spikes and variants as much as a week before the people who are infected develop systems and get tested at a hospital.

Altamonte Springs has been testing sewage since April 2020 and has one of the largest collections of samples in the United States, Martz said.

Seminole County emergency leaders said they’re being proactive and making sure everyone has access to vaccines and testing.

They said they’ve gone as far to extend their vaccine sites this week and as long as they are needed to make sure residents are safe.

“A week ago, we saw omicron all around us and we’re like, ‘it’s probably here. It’s going to pop up on a test soon, let’s get prepared,’” said Seminole County emergency manager Alan Harris.

Harris said the county took more action to now extend its county-run vaccine sites.

He says initially the county planned to end its special vaccine events last Saturday.

“Just like COVID, if a variant is coming my way, and it looks like it’s everyone else and surrounding, I’m thinking it’s probably here,” he said.

Harris said he doesn’t know yet if omicron being being detected in the Altamonte springs waste water is a concern.

“We already knew omicron was here,” he said. “Hopefully this will encourage people to go get a booster to be safer a little bit more protected

This week, we know Seminole County will host a special vaccine event from 3 to 7 p.m. on Thursday at the Casselberry Rec Center.

This is on top of private pharmacies and other companies already doing vaccines in the county.

“We’ll see how they go,” Harris said. “If there is a high demand, certainly we will continue to add them as necessary.”

About the Author:

Jerry Askin is an Atlanta native who came to News 6 in March 2018 with an extensive background in breaking news.