Novel coronavirus SARS CoV2, which causes COVID-19. Meanwhile, new COVID mutations called variants are spreading across the U.S., including the delta variant and the new variant called omicron. Microphotography by National Institute on Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Florida health officials on Wednesday shared some details about the residents exposed to COVID-19 variants spreading throughout the state — such as gender, age and race — but the report didn’t include cases caused by the new omicron, a concerning variant that first emerged in South Africa.
The Florida Phoenix had sent multiple public records requests to the Florida Department of Health regarding omicron, the variant now spreading across the nation and the world. So far, three omicron cases have been confirmed – one in Tampa and another in St. Lucie County. A third case in Miami-Dade County was confirmed by county officials but not the state health department.
The report provided to the Phoenix by the state shows that the delta variant, known as B.1.617.2, remains the most prevalent variant in the state. And unlike the sparse information about omicron, the state health department did provide details about the delta variant cases dating back to the summer months.
As of Nov. 29, the delta variant has caused a total of 35,773 delta infections in Florida, plus more than 10,000 of the delta-related “sub lineages.”
Delta was first identified in India and was labeled as a variant of concern by the World Health Organization because of increased transmissibility, according to its website.
Overall, Florida had a total of 48,275 cases related to variants of concern. Of the total cases, women had seen more infections than men, with 25,049 and 22,935 case respectively. Data show that Broward County had seen the most cases, at 5,169; Hillsborough County had 4,515 and Duval County had 3,740.
Young people in Florida have been heavily impacted by COVID-19, according to the state’s report on variant cases. In Florida, the largest age group with reported cases is ages 25-34, with 9,292 cases; followed by those ages 35-44, with 8,329 cases. Seniors ages 65-74 only accounted for 3,108 cases.
Still, omicron has been identified in wastewater facilities in Central Florida, raising concerns that more residents are infected, but state health officials may not have identified new cases yet.
Jeremy Redfern, press secretary for the state health department, told the Phoenix in an email Wednesday morning that the agency is “still gathering information as it comes in” regarding omicron variant cases.
Meanwhile, a new member of the state agency’s executive leadership team was announced Tuesday to join State Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo.
State officials appointed Dr. Kenneth A. Scheppke to serve as the deputy secretary for health, according to a press release by the state health department. He previously served as the state emergency medical services director. He is a licensed medical doctor. He is a dual board-certified specialist in emergency medicine.
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