With nearly 30% of residents testing positive, the Omicron variant has pushed the Covid-19 pandemic back to a severe level in Volusia County.

There were 7,465 new cases with 29.8% of residents testing positive in the Jan. 7-13 period, compared to 6,443 new cases with 29.4% of residents testing positive in the Dec. 31-Jan. 6 period, Florida Department of Health statistics show. The state does not provide the number of residents tested.

In its latest update, AdventHeath Central Florida reported having 910 Covid-19 patients in its hospitals across seven Central Florida counties, including Volusia. About 120 of those are receiving ICU-level care.

The health care system says it is prepared for the increase, which so far remains lower than during the Delta surge, which peaked in August with about 1,700 hospitalized patients.

Halifax Health in Daytona Beach reported Jan. 13 having 70 patients

The health department reported 343,242 residents were vaccinated out of an estimated population of 552,328. There were 1,575 residents getting at least one shot during the Jan. 7-13 period, about the same as 1,574 residents getting at least one shot during the Dec. 31-Jan. 6 period. There have been about 65% of Volusia residents ages five and over who have been vaccinated.

Volusia has had total cases of 96,863 with 1,655 deaths as of Jan. 12.

While the Omicron variant causes more mild illness in some, serious symptoms such as respiratory distress are still common among hospitalized patients, according to AdventHealth.

AdventHealth physicians say the community’s best defense against Omicron, which is more contagious than previous strains even among those who are vaccinated, is for those who haven’t received Covid-19 booster shots, to get them. Those who have not begun their primary vaccine series will still benefit from doing so and will receive protection from the variant.

The physicians continue to recommend people wear masks in crowded indoor spaces or when in close contact with others. Social distancing and good hygiene practices are also recommended to help cut down on community spread of the virus.

People should avoid going to the Emergency Room just for a Covid-19 test. The state offers a statewide listing of places to get tested at https://floridahealthcovid19.gov/testing-sites/.

Also, the County of Volusia is reopening its drive-through testing and vaccination site at the Fairgrounds on State Road 44 in DeLand. To register, visit myfhs.org/. For other places to get vaccinated, visit https://floridahealthcovid19.gov/vaccines/vaccine-locator/ or call the Volusia County Health Department at (386) 274-0500.

The Volusia County School Board is allowing parents to opt out of mandatory face coverings for students as well as all adults at school system facilities. Since school started, the school district has gotten reports of 4,115 employees and students infected with Covid-19. Total cases were at 2,496 at the holiday break.

Statewide there were 430,297 new Covid-19 cases with 29.3% of residents testing positive in the Jan. 3-7 period, compared to 397,114 new Covid-19 cases with 31.2% of residents testing positive in the Dec. 31-Jan. 6 period. There were 111 deaths, up from 44 deaths the previous week. The state has now had a total of 4,992,265 cases and 63,158 deaths.

There were 333,477 Florida residents receiving at least one dose of a vaccine, including booster shots, in the past week with a total of 15,067,543 or 72% of the Florida population, according to the state report.

For more information about the Covid-19 pandemic in Florida, visit floridahealthcovid19.gov.

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