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Newest COVID-19 variant likely spreading as positivity rate at AdventHealth Centra Care triples

Third dose of vaccines, masking key to fighting Omicron

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The daily rate of positive cases at AdventHealth’s Centra Care clinics tripled in recent weeks – from about 5.5% to 21% -- a sign that the Omicron variant is spreading in the community and underscoring the need for more people to get vaccinated, including third doses, said Dr. Victor Herrera, chief medical officer at AdventHealth Orlando on today’s AdventHealth News Briefing.

“This is the time to get your booster if you haven’t gotten it,” said Herrera, an infectious disease specialist. “Everybody who is eligible for a booster should go out and get it, or get vaccinated if you haven’t been vaccinated.”

While the number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in AdventHealth hospitals across Central Florida remains low, the Centra Care positivity rate has proven to be a predictor of an increase in hospitalized cases during previous surges, Herrera said.

On Tuesday about 100 people were hospitalized with the virus across AdventHealth’s seven-county region, down from a peak of about 1,700 during the Delta surge in August.

Herrera said it wasn’t possible to know how severe a potential surge could be, but the health care system is taking steps to prepare in case hospitalizations increase.

The community can help, he said, by getting vaccinated, including third dose booster shots.  

A review of records related to patients who recently tested positive at Centra Care, AdventHealth’s urgent care clinics, showed that most of the people with breakthrough infections had not received a third dose of the vaccine. Only about 4% of positive cases were found among people who already had the booster shot.

With Christmas just days away, Herrera encouraged the community to embrace the joy of the season, while using masks, potentially gathering outdoors, or taking other precautions to reduce the spread of the virus.

“Enjoy your holidays,” he said. “But do it in a safe way.”

People who are experiencing sinus congestion, stomach upset, fever, or other symptoms should seek a COVID-19 test as soon as they begin to feel ill. COVID and flu tests are available at AdventHealth Centra Care.

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