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Polk County sees 262% jump in new COVID-19 cases, health officials suspect omicron

Virus Outbreak Florida
Posted at 5:45 PM, Dec 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-28 17:46:05-05

POLK COUNTY, Fla. — COVID-19 cases in Polk County have spiked dramatically as the omicron variant spreads through Florida.

“There’s no doubt in my mind we are in another wave, another surge,” said Dr. Joy Jackson, director of the Florida Department of Health in Polk County.

After experiencing some of its lowest COVID-19 numbers last month, Polk County is again seeing an alarming rise in positive cases. New COVID-19 cases in Polk County skyrocketed last week to 1,792, according to a weekly report from the Florida Department of Health.

That 262% increase is the largest week-over-week increase since the state started reporting coronavirus numbers.

“Our case counts are going up and our positivity rate is going up, which has me concerned,” said Jackson.

Polk County’s positivity rate spiked to 9.5%, compared with 3.2% a week earlier. While there hasn’t been a confirmed case of omicron in the county, Dr. Jackson believes the highly transmissible variant is likely already here.

“This looks and acts very much like omicron with the rapid increase in case numbers, so I have no doubt in my mind that this is omicron,” she said.

The CDC has rated the transmission risk in Polk County as high. Even though omicron is less severe than the delta variant, the health department continues urging everyone to get fully vaccinated and boosted against COVID-19, to prevent severe illness, in addition to wearing a more protective fitted mask like a KN95.

Dr. Jackson has a message ahead of New Year's Eve celebrations.

“We do know that omicron is likely, it’s coming fast and furious. We got a new year's holiday coming up in a few days and I really want people to think about whether it’s a risk to themselves or their family members to attend any large gatherings,” Jackson said.