DORAL, FL – A Tampa Bay hospital in Florida confirms first case of omicron variant in the state on Tuesday and another possible case is under evaluation by the Florida Department of Health.
According to a statement, the person infected with the variant was detected at James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital, which makes Florida the 20th state in the U.S. to see the COVID-19 strain arrive.
As of Tuesday, the New York Times’ variant tracker reports that 19 U.S. states have detected the omicron variant, including California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maryland and Massachusetts, among others.
Data from the other possible case has been sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to determine if it’s related to the variant.
The patient’s vaccination status is unknown but it was confirmed that is experiencing mild symptoms and had recently returned from international travel.
In the light of this, Governor Ron DeSantis said in a Tuesday news conference that the fact that a hospital in Florida confirms first case of omicron variant in the state doesn’t change its approach to COVID-19.
“If somebody is … scared of omicron and they want to lock down, or they want to isolate, that is absolutely their decision in a free society,” DeSantis said. “But you don’t impose ‘Fauci-ism’ on the whole country or the whole state.”
The B.1.1.529 variant or omicron was first detected in South Africa and since then it has raised concerns due to the high number of mutations in the virus’ spike protein, which could affect how easily it spreads.
Nevertheless, up until now it seems this variant is not as dangerous as the delta one as expressed by Dr. Anthony Fauci, top infectious disease expert and chief medical advisor to President Biden.
Omicron’s contagious nature motivated the federal government to update its COVID-19 travel restrictions for several countries.