Omicron detected in hospital patient in Miami-Dade County, sources tell Local 10

Omicron variant is detected in Miami-Dade County. Doctors recommend booster shots for those who are vaccinated against COVID-19.

MIAMI, Fla. – The omicron variant has made its way to South Florida. On Friday afternoon, two sources told Local 10 News that the first known case of the variant has been detected in Miami-Dade County and involves a patient at a local hospital. A spokesperson from Mayor Daniella Levine Cava’s office confirmed that the county has learned of the case.

Local 10 learned that the variant was detected in Miami-Dade by a private pathology lab called CardioPath in South Miami that pivoted to doing PCR testing in April of last year. Since then, they have been using their own profits to self fund sequencing, which is the method used to try to identify some of different variants of concern with the hopes of identifying threats quickly in the local community.

This comes just in the beginning of the busy travel season. Experts are saying that this is not the time to let their guard down.

Earlier Friday, we spoke to Dr. Dushyantha Jayaweera of the University of Miami regarding concerns about omicron and the busy holiday season ahead.

“I would anticipate there would be an increase based on the number of people traveling,” he said. “Omicron is a very, very infectious virus, the transmissibility is very high.”

Local 10 has learned that the first case of the omicron variant has been detected in a hospital patient in Miami-Dade County.

People are eager to travel. Case in point, 1.7 million people passed through Miami International Airport over the Thanksgiving holiday, a 14 percent increase from 2019. The Sunday after Thanksgiving set a record for the most passengers in a single day in the airport’s history.

Travelers we spoke with Friday at MIA said they are mindful of the variant but not overly concerned.

Jayaweera points out that coronavirus cases have increased slightly in recent days, though hospitalizations have not.

“This complacency and not wearing masks in front of people assuming that everyone has had the booster and everybody is vaccinated is a fool’s paradise.” Jayaweera said.

Twenty-five U.S. states have detected cases of the new strain, a number that health officials expect to increase in the coming weeks, Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said at a White House COVID-19 briefing Friday.

About the Authors:

Amy Viteri is an Emmy Award-winning journalist who joined Local 10 News in September 2015. She's currently an investigative reporter and enjoys uncovering issues facing South Florida communities. A native of the Washington, D.C., area, she's happy to be back in South Florida, where she earned a masters degree at the University of Miami.

Michelle F. Solomon is the podcast producer/reporter/host of Local 10's original, true-crime podcast The Florida Files and a digital journalist for Local