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COVID-19 cases skyrocket 119% in Florida since Dec. 3

Omicron variant now identified in 45 states
Omicron variant
Posted at 4:38 PM, Dec 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-20 18:21:36-05

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The number of new COVID-19 cases across the state has more than doubled since the beginning of the month.

Experts say all signs point to a very contagious variant.

The omicron variant has now been detected in all but five states, according to the latest numbers from the Centers for Disease Control.

Health experts said Monday that omicron is now 73% of COVID-19 cases in the U.S.

MORE: 5 things to know about omicron variant

The new cases of COVID-19 in Florida have skyrocketed since Dec. 3 — increasing by 119 percent.

"You have a more transmissible disease that gives it more milder disease, therefore people tend to be out and about more if they are not ill," infectious disease specialist Dr. Larry Bush said.

Dr. Larry Bush speaks about omicron
Dr. Larry Bush offers travel advice amid surging omicron cases.

Bush said the spread of the variant is inevitable.

"I think you should definitely get vaccinated and make sure you've been boosted before you travel," Bush said.

As more people travel, the number of people tested goes up and so do confirmed infections.

CDC data shows that daily admissions and intensive-care unit cases in Palm Beach County significantly dropped after September and have remained low.

"The ICU rarely gets a COVID patient in this day, but we're going to see," Bush said. "The next two weeks are going to be telling because of the travel, the weening of the vaccine's immunity."

State data shows less than half of people who have completed the vaccine series have received a booster.

Aaron Daniels, a visitor to Florida, just arrived from New York. He said he has received a booster shot but his holiday plans still might change.

"I've been amazed that nobody wears masks here," Daniels said. "I have nine people coming from California, and they are wondering whether they should come or not."

Aaron Daniels, Florida holiday visitor
Aaron Daniels is in Florida for the holidays from New York.

At Ana Peralta's house in Wellington, she is keeping holiday festivities small.

"They must be vaccinated, absolutely," Peralta said.

Bush said if you are asymptomatic, he doesn't think you need to get a COVID-19 test unless you are around people who are unvaccinated.

"I would feel a little uncomfortable in a household with unvaccinated folks, even though I've been vaccinated and have received a booster," Bush said. "I would suggest getting tested at that point."

Many places that used to accept walk-ins for COVID-19 tests are now appointment only because of increased demand during the holidays.

Click here for a list of COVID-19 testing sites in Florida.

Here is a link to testing sites available in Palm Beach County.

State health experts said there isn't a way to test for the variant unless the state lab screens a suspected positive test.