Christmas crowds around Jacksonville amid nationwide surge in omicron cases

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Christmas is here, but the last thing people like Cree Baker wanted this holiday season was another surge of COVID-19 cases.

“We want to just try to stop the spread of COVID,” she said while wearing her mask outdoors.

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Most of U.S. is seeing a surge in cases due to the omicron variant, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data. Florida broke the state record two days in a row for daily cases with 32,850 alone on Christmas Eve.

As plenty enjoyed the outdoors of Jacksonville Beach, the recent spike is something that is beginning to worry Baker.

“I’m a little concerned but not too stressful. You have to live your life,” she said.

Florida reported Friday more than 125,000 new cases in the past week. As families gathered for the holidays, Duval County Department of Health encouraged people to mask up and vaccinate.

The overall surge isn’t concerning others like Gen Taylor.

“I’m OK with it. We are outside and I’m not walking up into anybody’s faces,” she said.

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Early data leads experts to believe that omicron is two to three times as contagious as the delta variant. While some, like Gary Moore, say they still follow safety guidelines, he believes it’s not a time to overreact.

“You can’t let every situation that transpires in life prevent you from enjoying yourself,” he said.

Action News Jax has also spoken with doctors all week who have said the best way to stay safe throughout the holidays is by being vaccinated and boosted. Local doctors also say it’ll provide better protection if you’re able to gather outdoors like Action News Jax saw many do.