Cancellations are starting to occur more frequently, as COVID-19 cases continue to climb across the United States.
Health care experts say the surge is being driven by the Omicron variant of the virus.
An interpretive analysis published on The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s website estimates that Omicron may account for approximately 95% of cases.
There were 5,705,264 new cases reported across the U.S. on Jan. 5, more than doubling the January 2021 peak, according to a CDC report.
“The entire country is now experiencing high levels of community transmission. Hospitalizations are also on the rise,” the CDC report says.
Based on current knowledge about the Omicron variant, the CDC recently updated its quarantine and isolation recommendations for the public.
Those coming into close contact with someone with COVID-19 should quarantine if they are in one of these groups:
- Age 18 or older and have completed the primary series of recommended vaccine, but have not received a recommended booster shot when eligible
- Have received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine (completing the primary series) over two months ago and have not received a recommended booster shot
- Are not vaccinated or have not completed a primary vaccine series
The CDC also says that those confirmed or suspected of COVID-19, regardless of vaccination status, should stay home and isolate from other people for at least five full days.
They also should wear a well-fitting mask when around others at home and in public for an additional five days.
Testing may be used to help determine when to end your isolation period, the CDC says.
As of Jan. 5, the current seven-day moving average of daily new cases (586,391) increased 85.7% compared with the previous seven-day moving average (315,851).
A total of 57,898,239 COVID-19 cases have been reported in the United States as of Jan. 5, according to the CDC.
Health experts are advising those who need to be tested to go to a local pharmacy, an urgent care center or a public testing site — not to a hospital emergency room.
Hillsborough County has three free COVID-19 testing sites, they are located at:
- Hillsborough County Community College Brandon campus, 10451 Nancy Watkins Drive, in Tampa. It is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., daily for residents who want to receive free COVID-19 testing. This is a drive-thru site, and no appointments are needed.
- Progress Village Park, 8701 Progress Blvd., in Tampa. This is a walk-up COVID-19 testing site open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., daily. No appointments are needed.
- West Tampa Community Resource Center, 2103 N. Rome Ave., in Tampa. This is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., daily. It is a walk-up site that offers free COVID-19 testing, vaccinations, Pfizer pediatric vaccines, booster shots for those who are eligible, and monoclonal antibody therapy treatment. No appointments are needed for most of the services, but residents wanting monoclonal antibody therapy treatment must make an appointment. They can make an appointment at PatientPortalFl.com.
Children ages 5 to 11 who are accompanied by their parent or legal guardian can receive the COVID-19 Pfizer pediatric vaccine at the West Tampa Community Resource Center site. The child must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian to verbally confirm the child’s age.
For all services, proof of medical insurance is recommended and should be presented at the time of the visit. People without medical insurance will still be tested, vaccinated, or receive monoclonal antibody therapy treatment for free.
Meanwhile, according to a report by The Center Square, an online news outlet, Florida’s Republican Congressional delegation has entered into the state’s ongoing rift with the Biden administration over access to monoclonal antibody drugs.
The state’s two senators and 11 of its congressional members sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra arguing the administration’s distribution policy regarding the monoclonal antibody therapy “continues to be shortsighted and burdensome on states and health care providers.”
Their letter comes after Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo accused the Biden administration of “actively preventing the effective distribution of monoclonal antibody treatments in the U.S.,” according to The Center Square report.
The Center Square also reported that Florida seniors who live in assisted-living facilities and nursing homes will receive 1 million rapid COVID-19 tests in an effort by the state to prioritize safety for those at high risk to serious illness.
Gov. Ron DeSantis announced the distribution during a visit at the Rehabilitation Center of the Palm Beaches, where he met with leaders in the senior care industry.
When to seek emergency medical attention
If you experience any of these signs, or someone you know is showing these signs, seek emergency medical care immediately:
- Trouble breathing
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- New confusion
- Inability to wake or stay awake
- Pale, gray or blue color skin, lips or nail beds, depending on skin tone.
Source: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Statistics from Jan. 9:
Pasco County: Community transmission rate, High; Cases, 6,247; positivity rate: 30.05%.
Hillsborough County: Community transmission rate, High; Cases: 22,110; 30.2% positivity rate.
Florida: Community transmission, High; cases: 410,713; positivity, 25-plus%
Statistics from Jan. 7:
Pasco County Schools: 196 student cases; total of 6,793 student cases for the school year
Pasco County Schools: 31 employee cases; total of 1,273 employee cases for the school year
Hillsborough County Schools: 2,398 employees cases for the year; 12,751 student cases for the year
Note: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises everyone in Pasco County and Hillsborough County to wear a mask in public, indoor settings.
Sources: Pasco County Schools, Hillsborough County Schools and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Published January 12, 2022