PANAMA CITY Fla. (WMBB) – COVID-19 testing slots are filling up quickly as the omicron variant takes over.

Local health officials say omicron is the most contagious variant yet. 

Data from the Florida Department of Health shows positive cases of COVID-19 in Bay County have quadrupled in the last week. Lindsay Nobles, the Infection Prevention Director at Gulf Coast Regional Medical Center said hospital beds are not filling up as quickly with COVID patients. 

“That’s why we are going to see an increase in the community in Bay County and in the surrounding areas, but the hospital itself we are not getting the impact like we did with the delta surge,” Nobles said.

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Nobles said at Gulf Coast Regional Medical Center they only have 12 patients currently hospitalized for COVID-19. She said this number is small compared to the summer delta surge where they say the highest number of patients they had admitted was 106.

Health officials at Ascension Sacred Heart say they currently have 21 patients hospitalized in Bay, Gulf and Walton counties. 

Their peak number of patients during the delta surge was 154. 

“A lot more of our patients are able to stay at home,” Nobles said. “If they feel sick and have very mild symptoms they can stay at home and monitor their progress to make sure they’re not worsening.”

Neither Gulf Coast Regional nor Ascension Sacred Heart are covid testing centers.

While the hospitals do not offer covid testing, a new site has just opened in Lynn Haven. 

The Health Department is sponsoring the curative site at the Lynn Haven Sports Complex on Recreation Drive. They test Monday through Saturday. You must make an appointment. 

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Places like Pancare, CVS and other private providers also offer testing. 

Nobles said many people are turning to the at-home testing kits if they start to feel sick. 

“They are accurate, not as accurate as if you do go to a medical facility to get tested,” Nobles said. “But I do think it provides a tool to see if you do need to seek further treatment from your primary care.”

For those seeking treatment for COVID-19, Gulf Coast Regional Medical Center just reopened their monoclonal antibody treatment center at the hospital.