ST. LUCIE COUNTY, 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.
A health department spokesperson said in an email that contact tracing was conducted to identify any other possible exposures and necessary isolation.
It's unclear if the St. Lucie County patient was vaccinated.
Earlier today, a statement was released regarding the presumed case of Omicron detected by the Florida Department of Health. This case has now been confirmed by @CDCgov. The Department has released an updated statement below as of 6pm. pic.twitter.com/Zmkx2fszMG— Florida Dept. of Health (@HealthyFla) December 7, 2021
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said Tuesday that omicron has now been detected in 50 countries and 19 states with officials expecting those numbers to increase.
The variant was first detected in South Africa around Nov. 21. The strain was later detected for the first time in the U.S. on Dec. 1 in a patient in California who returned from South Africa on Nov. 22.
"The question is it's a more transmissible virus, but is it more transmissible in people who have been infected and people who had vaccine versus just the uninfected? In South Africa, it looks like the breakthrough rate for people who have been infected before, or people who have been vaccinated, is higher than what we saw with delta. That's a concern," said infectious disease specialist Dr. Larry Bush.
Experts continue to study the new strain to determine if omicron spreads faster than other variants and how effectively the current vaccines prevent hospitalization.