By Marsha Mullings, MPH
48 million cases, 780,000 deaths
3.7 million cases, 61,147 deaths
The daily average number of new cases in the US is now 85,000.
New coronavirus case count remains steady in Florida. The daily average is far below the peak of over 23,000 daily new cases, over the summer.
Omicron Variant Detected in Southern Africa
A new variant of the coronavirus, designated Omicron, has been reported by scientists in South Africa. The variant is said to have 26 mutations in the spike protein, which may make it partially resistant to currently available vaccines. Scientists across the global are working to evaluate the transmissibility of this new variant and to determine how effective current vaccines are in producing an immune response against it.
Omicron has been detected in countries outside the African continent, including, Australia, Belgium, Canada, and Italy. The variant has not yet been reported in the US, but it is likely that it is already circulating here.
The United States and several other countries have instituted travel bans against travelers flying from southern Africa. The US has restricted flights from South Africa, Lesotho, Malawi, Botswana, Namibia, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Eswatini.
Israel has restricted travel from all foreigners for two weeks, while scientists work to determine the transmissibility and vaccine resistance of this new variant.
Although new coronavirus rates have fallen sharply in Florida, COVID-19 remains a serious health crisis. Vigilance is critical to reducing the chance of acquiring an infection. Practice good COVID-19 control strategies:
Observe social distancing guidelines (6 feet or more of separation from others).
Practice good hand hygiene (wash hands frequently with soap and warm water or use hand sanitizers).
Wear a mask when out in public if you are unvaccinated.
For more information on coronavirus (COVID-19) prevention, visit www.FloridaHealth.org; nyt.com; www.coronavirus.jhu.edu; www.cdc.gov