FORT PIERCE, Fla. — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Florida Department of Health have confirmed a case of the omicron variant of COVID-19 in St. Lucie County. It's the first known case of the variant on the Treasure Coast and the second in the state.
Employees of Dynix Diagnostic in Fort Pierce said they are confident COVID-19 tests already on the market will be able to detect omicron and any new variants that could spread to our community.
Laboratory Manager Stephanie Bazel has been involved in testing since the beginning of the pandemic.
"We're doing a few hundred samples a day," Bazel said.
They are still running samples sent to them from physicians' clinics, drive-thru testing sites, concert venues, nearby college and for people needing a test to travel.
"I can't necessarily tell you if you have delta or alpha, but I can tell you definitely have COVID-19," Bazel said.
She said the emergency use tests they use from the Food and Drug Administration were designed with variants in mind.
"What most of us are testing for are specific spots of the gene that are consistent with all the variants of the COVID-19 virus," Bazel said.
She explained the part of the virus that seems to mutate the most is in what's called the spike protein. That is why she said the tests are designed to focus elsewhere on more consistent aspects of the virus.
That makes the test more effective for each COVID-19 variant.
"I can assure people that the parts of the genes we're testing have not been affected by the variants, so we will detect the variants if the client has them," Bazel said.
Bazel said they do not test for specific variants unless a client asks them to send a test off to the state or CDC.
She is not sure if she has possibly already run a test for the omicron variant, but said if she receives one, she will catch it.
"I'm pretty sure that the variant was here on U.S. soil and maybe in St. Lucie County well before we knew about it," Bazel said.
Doctors also said antigen and rapid tests will be able to detect the omicron variant.