JACKSONVILLE, Florida – The Omicron may not be as widespread as it first thought, but it remains the dominant variant in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC said its new estimate is that omicron accounted for nearly 60% of new cases in the United States last week – less than the more than 70% initially thought. Delta did the rest.

But the highly contagious variant of omicron has always caused infections to skyrocket. According to the Washington Post, on Tuesday afternoon, the seven-day average of daily new cases in the United States was 253,245, surpassing the previous high of 248,209 cases on January 12.

Florida reported 39,000 new cases over Christmas weekend. Now hospitalizations are on the rise again in Northeast Florida.

As of Tuesday, there were 24 COVID-19 patients at Baptist Health’s five hospitals. Ascension St. Vincent’s had 19 COVID-19 patients, and UF Health Jacksonville had 27 COVID-19 patients – that number dropped from 16 in two days.

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For the second day in a row, there was a long line at the COVID-19 test site at the former Kmart in Neptune Beach. The site announced Tuesday morning that it was temporarily closing before it even opened due to the number of people already in line.

UF Health Jacksonville infectious disease director Chad Neilsen told News4JAX on Tuesday that the number of cases will increase.

“I predict that we are going to see increasing cases, as well as hospital admissions, this week as people start to go back to their normal lives and realize they are sick,” Neilsen said.

LISTING: COVID-19 test sites in Northeast Florida

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Meanwhile, the CDC updated its guidelines for isolation and quarantine on Monday, with omicron in the lead.

The isolation rules apply to infected people. They are the same for unvaccinated, partially vaccinated, fully vaccinated or boosted people.

They say:

  • The clock starts on the day you test positive.

  • An infected person should be isolated for five days, instead of the 10 previously recommended.

  • After five days, if you have no symptoms, you can resume your normal activities but must wear a mask everywhere – even in your homes and around others – for at least five more days.

  • If you are still showing symptoms after five days of isolation, stay home until you feel better, then begin your five days of all-day mask wear.

“If you are asymptomatic and infected, we want to get people back to work, especially those in jobs that are essential to the proper functioning of our society,” said Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Allergy Institute. and infectious diseases. .

Other experts wondered why the guidelines allowed people to leave solitary confinement without testing. Some frontline workers and the flight attendants union also criticized the move.

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“How are they going to implement this to make sure it’s only for asymptomatic people, coming back to work so people don’t have to go back to work while they are still sick,” said Association of Flight Attendants to International President Sara Nelson.

But Neilsen said there was medical research behind the rules.

“This is what they found out, that most people really got past the omicron if they are vaccinated and boosted on day 5, and so this is based on science,” Neilsen said. “The CDC doesn’t necessarily have control over the guidelines that we, as a hospital or other employers, have in terms of getting people back to work, so when the public sees these new guidelines, it’s the CDC that adapts to what the latest science says. “

Quarantine rules apply to people who have been in close contact with an infected person but who have not been infected themselves.

For quarantine, the clock starts on the day a person is alerted that they may have been exposed to the virus.

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Previously, the CDC had said that people who were not fully vaccinated and had close contact with an infected person were required to stay home for at least 10 days.

Now, the agency says only people who have received booster shots can skip quarantine if they wear masks in all settings for at least 10 days.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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