FLORIDA, USA — It was only four months ago that the COVID-19 delta variant swept through the nation, causing a surge in cases and hospitalizations. Florida was no exception, at one point being the epicenter of the latest wave.
Now, with omicron being the latest "variant of concern" the Sunshine State is once again seeing an uptick in cases.
On Friday, Florida's Department of Health reported 29,568 new COVID-19 cases between Dec. 10 and Dec. 16. That's the highest number of reported cases over a week since October 1.
The same trend can be seen in the state's percent positivity for new cases. Florida reported that its percent positivity over the past week was 5.4 percent. That's the highest percent positivity the state has seen since the end of September.
Omicron was originally detected in nearly 40 countries before it was first confirmed in the U.S. on Dec. 1. Since then, health officials in 40 states, including Florida, have confirmed their own cases of the variant.
Omicron, designated by the World Health Organization as a "variant of concern" in late November, was first reported in South Africa. Its country of origin is unclear.
President Joe Biden said shortly after the discovery that the variant is a cause for concern, not panic. He renewed his call for Americans to get COVID-19 booster shots. Health officials urged Americans to keep following standard COVID-19 precautions like social distancing and wearing masks indoors.
The World Health Organization said on Dec. 9 that early evidence suggests the omicron variant may be spreading faster than the highly transmissible delta variant but brings with it less severe coronavirus disease -- but cautioned that it was only “anecdotal information."