Delta variant remains ‘clear present danger’ in Miami-Dade amid omicron threat

Dr. David Andrews, a clinical pathology specialist, said the search for evidence of omicron's presence in South Florida continues.

MIAMI – Dr. David Andrews said the lab he runs at the University of Miami is hard at work screening coronavirus samples from the Jackson Health System patients for evidence of the omicron variant, discovered on Nov. 24.

The UM Health clinical pathology specialist said on Sunday during This Week In South Florida that evidence shows the “clear and present danger” in South Florida remains the delta variant.

“We are 99% delta right now ... Omicron is here ... I think we can speculate about its infectivity ... its ability to be transmitted ... the number of individuals that can be infected by one person ... this is going to emerge ... it’s going to be very clear just in the next couple of weeks,” Andrews said.

Without scientific review, South African scientists warned omicron appears to make reinfections more likely than delta. During a World Health Organization briefing on Thursday, a researcher said a previous infection used to protect against delta, and now with the omicron variant, it doesn’t.

Andrews said the COVID-19 vaccines that are widely available in South Florida will still protect against severe disease, but the duration of the protection will be less.

“We need to remain focused on the unbelievably positive effect of vaccination ... vaccination will protect even against omicron,” Andrews said.

The seven-day average COVID-19 positivity rate in Miami-Dade County was at 2%, according to the official local update released on Saturday.

Omicron cases are increasing around the world. The U.S., Mexico and Brazil are among the dozens of countries reporting cases. Andrews said it’s only a matter of time before his lab detects a case in Miami-Dade.

Massachusetts, Connecticut, Washington, New York, New Jersey, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, Minnesota, California, Hawaii, Colorado, and Utah have already detected omicron cases.

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Today's This Week In South Florida includes interviews about the coronavirus pandemic, a new threat to manatees in Biscayne Bay and NFTs at Art Basel Miami Beach.

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About the Authors:

Michael Putney came to Local 10 in 1989 to become senior political reporter and host of "This Week In South Florida with Michael Putney." He is Local 10's senior political reporter. 

Glenna Milberg joined Local 10 News in September 1999 to report on South Florida's top stories and community issues. She also serves as co-host on Local 10's public affairs broadcast, "This Week in South Florida."