😬 We're worried about Omicron.
Driving the news: Per a new public opinion survey from the University of South Florida, nearly 75% of Americans are "very concerned" or "somewhat concerned" about emerging variants.
The FDA extended the expiration date on one million COVID-19 test kits that have become a political football in recent weeks, per the Times/Herald.
The Omicron variant has hit Tampa Bay.
What's happening: After Florida's first known Omicron coronavirus case was reported in St. Lucie County on Monday, the state's second case was identified at James A. Haley Veterans Hospital in Tampa on Tuesday, the Tampa Bay Times reports.
Families across Tampa Bay are finally getting the COVID-19 vaccine for their children.
By the numbers: Nearly 45,000 children aged 5 to 11 got their shot last week when smaller doses of Pfizer arrived in Florida, the Tampa Bay Times reports.
It's highly likely no one in Tampa Bay loved beagles more than Jack Novoselski.
What's happening: Kristin Hare's latest beautiful obit for the Tampa Bay Times memorializes Novoselsk, a dog-loving hero who died Sept. 28 of the coronavirus. He was 76 and fully vaccinated.
Roughly 4,500 Tampa Bay residents — an average of about 36 per day — died from COVID-19 over the four months the Florida Department of Health did not share daily pandemic information with citizens.
Driving the news: The data is now available and gives a clearer picture of the heartbreaking toll of the latest record-breaking spikes from the delta variant — which is only now subsiding — between June and October.
The state Department of Health is investigating a bevy of Florida businesses for enforcing COVID-19 safety rules that violate the state's law against them.
Flashback: Florida passed a law this year that prohibits businesses from requiring customers to show a proof of vaccine. The department of health can "enforce penalties on applicable entities or institutions that require documentation of vaccination or post-exposure status."
- For municipalities, the fine can be as high as $5,000 per infraction.
- Anyone can report a violation to [email protected].
Florida is spending tens of millions of dollars on contact tracing, but state officials can't say if the program is actually working, according to a new Tampa Bay Times report.
What's happening: The state health department isn't keeping track of calls made by contact tracers — who are already only doing a portion of the job as it's described in CDC guidelines.
- The CDC says contact tracers are supposed to call people who have tested positive, give them their test results, ask who they've come in contact with, then reach out to warn those people.
- But Times reporter Anastasia Dawson found many Florida tracers are telling infected people to reach out to their contacts themselves.
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