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‘We are seeing that omicron infection may be a little less severe,’ expert says

Dr. Robert Goldszer, Mount Sinai Medical Center's chief medical officer, discussed the state of the coronavirus pandemic on Sunday in South Florida.

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – Dr. Robert Goldszer said the dramatic increase in coronavirus cases in South Florida means some patients will experience health problems that lead to hospitalizations and sadly the death toll will increase. He has seen some signs of hope.

Goldszer, the chief medical officer at Mount Sinai Medical Center, said the omicron variant infection appears to result in less severe COVID-19 disease in most patients.

“We are seeing that Omicron infection may be a little less severe and a little shorter lived ... Some people are getting it quickly and then clearing it a little more quickly than the first four waves that we’ve been through,” Goldzer said during This Week In South Florida.

The unvaccinated will bear the brunt of it. Goldzer said the data indicates the vaccine mandates have worked, but there are still some very strong holdouts of people who prefer to endure regular coronavirus testing than to get inoculated.

“Here in Florida, I saw recently about 62% are vaccinated, so 38% not vaccinated, that group of patients is still at risk for more risk for hospitalization and deaths, so that’s a sad comment.”

Goldzer said the vaccine and the tests are safe and accessible. There are two new at-home treatment options — Pfizer’s Paxlovid, and Molnupiravir by Merck & Co. with partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutics LP — to prevent the virus from reproducing. The federal government is making sure these are available for free at drugstores.

“The pills I think will be a game-changer. These will be really helpful really good for people to get it if they get it early,” Goldzer said. “These pills can be very, very beneficial because they should be given early. They are oral and not intravenous ... this is a big deal if we can keep people out of the hospital.”

The latest on cases

Florida reported nearly 33,000 new COVID-19 cases to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from Friday. It was the second consecutive day the state set a new record for daily case increase.

The 32,850 new cases in the latest federal data surpass the previous record of 31,758 from Thursday — amid a surge of omicron variant cases. The previous record was on Aug. 26 with 27,669 coronavirus cases.

According to the Florida Department of Health’s weekly COVID-19 data report, released Friday evening, the statewide new-case positivity rate rose to 13.8% this week, up from 5.3% last week and 2.6% the week before.

The positivity rate in Broward County was 19.1%, Palm Beach was 17.1%, Miami-Dade was 16.6% and Monroe was 15.3%.

At 6,472 deaths out of 702,309 cases, Miami-Dade is the ninth county in the country with the highest number of deaths associated with COVID-19 since the pandemic began, according to an analysis by epidemiologists with Johns Hopkins University.

For information on where you can get a COVID-19 test or vaccine in South Florida, click here.

Watch the full episode: This Week In South Florida, Dec. 26

Republican and Democrats from South Florida share messages ahead of 2022.

About the Authors:

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."

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.