Florida's first confirmed case of Omicron variant reported in Tampa


The first case of the Omicron variant of coronavirus was confirmed in Central Florida. 

A patient who had traveled internationally came down with the latest mutation of COVID-19 and it was discovered at James A. Haley Veterans Hospital in Tampa.

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

While the variant was first identified as a novel strain in South Africa, it has since been detected in many other countries including the United States. The Joe Biden administration implemented a travel ban from certain countries following the news of the new variant. This move is widely believed to be ineffective, especially as cases pop up inside the United States. Because the variant is already here, officials at James A. Haley urged Floridians to get vaccinated.

“It is critical for people to get vaccinated as soon as possible,” a spokeswoman said. “While no vaccine is 100% effective in preventing illness, the COVID-19 vaccines available in the U.S. provide excellent protection against the COVID-19 variants that have caused surges in the United States so far and are particularly effective in preventing severe illness or death from COVID-19.”

That message comes at the same time that Florida's surgeon general promoted unproven treatments for COVID-19 in a video. Dr. Joseph Ladapo, the recently picked top doc, told Floridians to ask their doctors about alternative treatments of the virus, including an asthma medication and an anti-depressant. He never mentions the coronavirus vaccine, though it does appear alongside recommendations of diet and exercise.

“Why not just promote the stuff that’s proven?” Gainesville-based infectious disease specialist Dr. Frederick Southwick said in an interview with the Sun-Sentinel. “In health care, we want to focus on things of high value that have a dramatic reduction in cases and are inexpensive. Vaccines fill those criteria. The fact that [Ladapo] doesn’t even mention them in the video is embarrassing.”


Ladapo appears to be taking his orders from Governor Ron DeSantis, who said he doesn't expect to make any changes to the way Florida operates.

“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,” DeSantis said, taking aim at a favorite target.


DeSantis pushed anti-masking and lockdown rhetoric even during the worst days of the pandemic, so at least we can count on him being a ghoul consistently.


Stay on top of Central Florida news and views with our weekly newsletters, and consider supporting this free publication. Our small but mighty team is working tirelessly to bring you Central Florida news, and every little bit helps.

About The Author

Scroll to read more Orlando Area News articles
Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state.
Help us keep this coverage going with a one-time donation or an ongoing membership pledge.

Newsletters

Join Orlando Weekly Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.