Welcome to today's edition of the Florida Coronavirus Watch Newsletter. Let's get you up to speed with the latest news of the day from the USA TODAY Network-Florida.
Here's what's happening across the state
COVID hospitalizations on the rise (again) as omicron infections skyrocket: Florida's latest COVID-19 infection wave is now leading to rising hospitalizations throughout the state. More than 3,400 Floridians are now hospitalized with COVID-19, according to the Florida Hospital Association. That's 657 more patients than the association's prior-day report — nearly a 24% increase. Meanwhile, infections jumped in Florida this month as the highly contagious omicron variant of the virus spreads throughout the county. The state saw 29,059 confirmed infections on Tuesday, a one-day record, according to the CDC.
CDC warns "avoid cruise travel" after 5,000 COVID cases reported in 2 weeks: "Today, CDC increased the Cruise Travel Health Notice (THN) to a Level 4, recommending people avoid cruise travel regardless of vaccination status," the CDC said in a statement. The agency noted the decision was made as COVID-19 cases are increasing on ships, in the U.S. and around the globe. Between Nov. 30 and Dec. 14, cruise ships operating in U.S. waters reported 162 cases. Between Dec. 15 and Dec. 29, cruise ships sailing in U.S. waters reported 5,013 cases. That's nearly 31 times the number of cases reported in the first two weeks of December, the CDC said.
COVID outbreak at upscale country club in South Florida: At least 40 workers have tested positive for the coronavirus at the Club at Ibis in West Palm Beach, the club's general manager told the Palm Beach Post. Even before the outbreak, the labor shortage had left the club with 60 unfilled positions — one website says the club employs 321 people. As a result of the outbreak, the club was already struggling to provide services to the 1,850 homeowners in the golf-course community. Officials also reported 7 residents of Ibis have tested positive for the virus, raising that total to 19 known as of Dec. 23.
The claim: The omicron coronavirus variant is the common cold
The verdict: Based on our research, we rate FALSE the claim that omicron is the common cold. Rhinoviruses are the primary cause of the common cold, while omicron is a variant of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Omicron and the common cold share similar symptoms, but experts say they are genetically distinct. While researchers are still looking into the severity of the variant, omicron is thought to be more dangerous than the common cold.
The claim: Placing an onion near a baby's head treats nasal congestion
The verdict: Based on our research, we rate FALSE the claim that placing an onion near a baby's head treats nasal congestion. Experts told USA TODAY there is no scientific evidence that onions cure congestion.
Anything else you want to know? Ask your questions here. And finally, thank you for reading. We appreciate you trusting our statewide journalists to keep you safe and informed. If you are encouraged by our work and want to support your local journalists, please consider subscribing. Know someone who would benefit from this newsletter? Forward this email so they can sign up.
Jennifer's note of the day: If you're a journalist, feedback comes with the job, good or bad. We're taught not to engage with trolls — especially on social media because that's a battle we'll never win. But that's okay. I'm thankful for the feedback because it means you read our coverage. You took the time to ask us questions or give us an opinion. In some cases, you asked us to fix a mistake (those types of emails are always welcome — promise!). Covering the coronavirus pandemic is challenging, but we're happy to do it because, like you, we're learning something new about the virus each day. I hope this Coronavirus Watch newsletter has been useful. Suggestions and reader feedback are always welcome (link to Google form above). Happy New Year to our readers, our subscribers, our newsletter fans and our critics!
Here's what else is happening with the coronavirus in Florida today.
This article originally appeared on Fort Myers News-Press: Hospitalizations rising in Florida as omicron infections skyrocket