Covid and its variants continue to pose a significant threat to public and individual health.

Covid and its variants continue to pose a significant threat to public and individual health.

Since the first confirmed case of the Covid-19 Omicron variant in the United States, it has spread and caused national vaccination lines to bust at the seams. Americans are lining up for both their boosters and their first round of vaccines, and many pharmacies are returning to an appointment-only system to keep up with the demand for shots.

So far, 10 states have confirmed cases of Omicron: Maryland, Utah, Missouri, Pennsylvania, New York, Colorado, Minnesota, California, Hawaii and Nebraska. Florida does not yet have confirmed cases, although that doesn't necessarily mean Omicron hasn't already made its way here. While Covid-19 tests can detect a positive case no matter the variant it originates from, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ultimately determines the specific variant a person has and records the data.

"Locally, we've always forwarded test samples to the CDC through the state lab system that meet specific criteria for variant testing," says Sarasota County Department of Health's public information officer Steve Huard.

A regular PCR or rapid test sent off to the CDC will be checked for the variant of origin and eventually recorded and announced to state health officials. Doctors and public health officials continue to emphasize Vaccination is the primary way to reduce variant transmissibility.

"According to our recent reports, 313,946 people, or 74 percent of people age 5 and up in Sarasota County, have received at least one dose of the vaccine," says Huard.

For our list of local vaccination sites, click here. For more information on the Sarasota County Department of Health, click here.

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