Florida Health 'ready to respond' as omicron variant arrives

'Florida will continue to adapt as necessary,' Florida Health communications director says
omicron variant-covid.jfif
Posted at 5:47 PM, Dec 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-08 17:47:01-05

TALLLAHASSEE, Fla. — The omicron variant is here.

Florida Health officials confirmed at least two cases of the latest COVID mutation Tuesday evening.

In an updated statement, Wednesday, officials said the department "stands ready to respond" but will remain flexible.

"Rather than focusing on one solution, the State of Florida will continue to adapt as necessary to protect public health as we have done with previous variants of concern and throughout the COVID-19 response," said Weesam Khoury, communications director for the Florida Department of Health.

Florida Health's new 'Healthier You' initiative launched in November 2021
Florida Health's new 'Healthier You' initiative launched in November.

The statement aligns with Florida Health's new "Healthier You" initiative, launched this month.

The PSA and accompanying website advocate vaccines and monoclonal antibodies — plus, healthier living, vitamins and off-label use of some COVID-19 treatments still being researched.

Meanwhile, White House officials have said early reports suggest boosters workand that omicron might be less severe but spreads quicker. Floridians, they warned, should not let down their guard.

"Mild or moderate disease can still fill up our hospitals — can still have an impact on our economy," said Dr. Cameron Webb, White House Senior Advisory for Equity with the COVID-19 Response Team. "We still want to be incredibly careful with it. I think I still have a healthy concern about this particular variant."

Dr. Cameron Webb, White House COVID-19 Response Team
Dr. Cameron Webb shares why Florida should not become complacent despite the state's current low cases of COVID-19.

Some high-ranking Democrats believe the state is moving in the wrong direction on COVID-19.

State Rep. Fentrice Driskell, D-Tampa, has criticized the recent hobbling of shot mandates through new laws. The lawmaker told us last week she was growing frustrated.

"We have over 60,000 Floridians who have died," Driskell said. "I'm tired of this governor playing politics and trying to fight President Joe Biden rather than fighting the pandemic."

State Rep. Fentrice Driskell
State Rep. Fentrice Driskell has been an ardent critic of how Gov. Ron DeSantis has handled the pandemic.

The GOP majority and governor pushed the policies through last month, saying they protect jobs and individual rights from federal mandates. Gov. Ron DeSantis defended the laws at a press event earlier this week.

"We won't let them restrict you," DeSantis said. "We're not going to let them impose mandates. We're not going to let them shut down the schools. We're going to protect your freedom to make your decisions."

Florida currently has one of the lowest infection rates in the country. Experts have said it still has work to do on boosters. Florida ranks 35th for boosted adults, according to the CDC.