Seminole County extending COVID-19 vaccine events after omicron variant detected in wastewater

ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla. — Channel 9 has learned that the omicron variant has been found in the wastewater in Altamonte Springs.

This is the first time the new variant has been found here in Central Florida.

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So far, no one has tested positive for the omicron variant in our area.

Channel 9 told you last week that the city began testing for the Omicron variant in the city’s wastewater which also includes a portion of northern Orange County.

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Seminole County Emergency Manager Alan Harris said the county has been preparing for the omicron variant for several weeks. He said it was only a matter of time before the variant showed up here.

He said testing for variants is like the lottery because the sampling for variants is so low.

“I’m 100% certain now that there is omicron in our county,” Harris said. “We know that for a fact.”

READ: First omicron COVID-19 death recorded in UK

One thing Harris does know is that vaccinations and boosters have been up in the county since omicron was first announced.

“So last week, when the omicron was identified in the state of Florida, for a fact, we started to see an increase in people making appointments,” Harris said. “And we continued to see that over the weekend. We doubled our appointments over the weekend on Saturday, and they totally sold out.”

READ: 9 things to know about the new COVID-19 omicron variant

In response, the county has extended some of the planned vaccine special events. The county was planning to close those down last week, but they are scheduling some for this week and next week as well. Click here for a list of upcoming vaccine events.

Altamonte Springs city manager Frank Martz said the level of omicron was relatively small.

“So the testing from the sample from Thursday showed a detectable level, which is representative of more than one person having that variant in the sewer service area, and contributing their RNA into the sewer system,” Martz said.

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Martz said they will take the data and share it with the National Institutes of Health and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as the Department of Health and the hospital systems here in Florida.

Martz said the delta variant is still the most prevalent variant in the area.

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Jeff Levkulich

Jeff Levkulich, WFTV.com

Jeff Levkulich joined the Eyewitness News team as a reporter in June 2015.