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"It's not a cause for alarm;" a doctor weighs in on the Omicron variant reaching Florida

Posted at 10:13 PM, Dec 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-07 22:14:21-05

FLORIDA — The CDC confirming the detection of the Omicron variant in Tampa.

Dr. Kelli Tice said this is how viruses act. They mutate as they spread from person to person, but she said the good news is tools like the vaccine protect us against the virus.

“All evidence currently suggests that being vaccinated and receiving your boosters when recommended still protects you from severe illness," she said.

Dr. Tice said research would continue to uncover more about the variant. Its impact is unknown because so few people have been diagnosed with it.

“We have only seen it in a small percentage of the population thus far. What impacts it may have on the more vulnerable remain to be seen," she said.

She said the best approach is the usual handwashing, mask-wearing and keeping your distance from others. She said the variant should be taken seriously but is nothing to panic about.

“While it is a cause for concern, it’s not a cause for alarm. Okay, the same things we have been doing to protect ourselves throughout the pandemic still apply," Dr. Tice said.

Folks in Downtown Fort Myers told Fox 4 they think about this new variant now showing up in Florida.

“I have been vaccinated and boostered, so I feel like I am doing all I can to protect myself. Yes, I think the whole thing is scary," Marie McLaughlin said.

Others said the arrival of Omicron in Florida is different, in their view, compared to its arrival in states with tighter pandemic restrictions.

“It’s not going change the way we should live our lives. I don’t think Florida should fall in line with those states where it does," Connor Martin said.

Dr. Tice predicts more people will be willing to get the vaccine because of the Omicron variant. She said we saw a similar trend when the Delta variant was dominant this summer.

Lee Health officials said they've already seen an increase in demand for the vaccine. Officials said last week, Gulf Coast Medical Center saw its highest volume of vaccinations since May.