By Jacqueline Quynh

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A surge in the Omicron variant has caused an uptick in hospitalizations, but it’s not quite a repeat of the Delta variant, at least not so far.

“We were in a very good situation several weeks ago, below 50 across the entire system regarding the number of active in-patient COVID-19 patients,” Dr. O’neil Pyke, Jackson North Medical Center Chief Medical Officer said.

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The numbers were going down at Jackson North Medical Center early December, but this holiday break it’s a new picture.

“Now we’re well north of that in the 200 range,” he said. Pyke added, the system may beginning to see signs of stress.

Over at Jackson Memorial, random tests samples are sent from the Jackson health system, as well as from University of Miami Health; about 80% are now showing the Omicron variant.

“Our first case of Omicron on a sample obtained on December 2nd, in period of about two weeks now we’re really rapidly emerging total replacement of the Delta variant which was the preceding variant that was present at 99 percent,” Dr. David Andrews, Jackson Memorial Pathology Laboratory Director.

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At Baptist Health, they’ve seen a 193% increase in positive cases, but the positivity stats only show a portion of what’s happening. The Florida Hospital Association reports from December 27, showed there was a 31% ICU bed availability statewide.

“This is a highly contagious variant. The positive news so far, and again things are still early is that we’re not seeing the death rate go up, and we’re not seeing the hospitalization capacity issues that we saw with the Delta surge and the Alpha variant as well,” Dr. Geeta Nayyar, UM Associate Professor of Medicine and Auto-immune specialist.

Dr. Nayyar focuses her concerns on the percentage of unvaccinated people. Currently, only 63% of Floridians are fully vaccinated.

“So it’s a large number, so it’s 40 percent and you add that with how contagious this is, the hospital capacity could change next week,” she explained.

Though there’s an increase in hospitalizations, Dr. Pyke has also seen patients released after a short visit.

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“They are mostly being discharged home because their oxygen levels is fine, they’re not having mounting very high fever,” he said.

Jacqueline Quynh