ORLANDO, Fla. — Even though there have been practically no cases of clinical infection, wastewater samples show that the new omicron variant is now the dominant strain of COVID-19 in the Florida county that is home to the nation’s largest theme park resorts, officials said this week.

The omicron variant has quickly surpassed the delta variant in collections taken from wastewater sampling sites in Orange County, officials said.

A sampling this week showed that omicron represented almost 100% of the strains in the samples from the wastewater facilities, Orange County Utilities spokesperson Sarah Lux said in an email.

It’s a different story when it comes to people seeking treatment for COVID-19, officials said.

“Those who are hospitalized are being primarily infected by the delta variant,” Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said Wednesday at a news conference held at the Orlando International Airport.

Although tourist numbers have dropped since the start of the pandemic, tens of millions still travel to Orlando each year to visit the area’s famous theme parks, including Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando.

Scientists have said omicron is more contagious than delta, but it’s unclear whether omicron’s rapid spread will overwhelm hospitals. They said it’s too soon to draw conclusions since the variant is quite new and hospitalizations can lag weeks behind infections.


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