Omicron now dominant variant in wastewater, Orange County mayor says

Evidence of new COVID variant found in all 3 treatment plants

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – The omicron variant is the dominant COVID-19 variant in Orange County wastewater treatment plants, Orange County officials said Wednesday.

Omicron has been detected in all three Orange County water reclamation facilities — Eastern, South and Northwest, Mayor Jerry Demings said at a news conference. Despite the presence in wastewater, health director Dr. Raul Pino said there was no known confirmation of an omicron case in the county yet. He suspects it will show up by Christmas week.

[TRENDING: 3 residents of The Villages arrested for casting multiple votes in 2020 election | DeSantis seeks new law to keep Critical Race Theory out of Fla. schools, workplaces | Become a News 6 Insider (it’s free!)]

Demings added that most of the people currently hospitalized due to COVID in the county have the delta variant.

At his COVID-19 briefing, the 167th for Orange County since the pandemic began, Demings pointed out that there was no presence of omicron in the wastewater a month ago.

“If there’s any advice that I can give to the residents of Orange County, it is that they should continue to get vaccinated within our community,” Demings said.

The mayor’s update comes two days after Orange County officials announced the variant was detected in two of the wastewater facilities -- the South Water Reclamation Facility and the Northwest Water Reclamation Facility. At the time of the announcement, utilities officials said more accurate results would be released Wednesday.

The variant has also been detected in the Altamonte Springs wastewater treatment plant in Seminole County.

Wednesday was also the one-year anniversary of the first COVID-19 vaccination administered in Orange County. Demings said that since then, 68% of residents 5 years of age and up have completed a full course of vaccinations. Pino said the county has given 2,820,833 doses of the vaccine so far.

The 14-day rolling positivity rate in Orange County is 3.8%. The Florida Department of Health says 2,283 people have died of COVID-19 since the pandemic began. Two people have died in Orange County in December thus far.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday that omicron makes up for about 3% of all cases nationwide, but it’s expected to grow. About two weeks ago, omicron accounted for less than 0.5% of COVID cases in the U.S.

About the Author:

Christie joined the ClickOrlando team in November 2021.