COVID-19 Cases Up in South Florida and Nationally

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Nationally and locally, there appears to be a mini COVID-19 surge occurring.

In the past two weeks across the country, cases are up 59%, and COVID deaths are up 41%.

Here in South Florida, hospitalizations have risen. Not enough to send alarm bells ringing, but enough to make the chief medical officer of the Jackson Health System take notice.

“We definitely see a small uptick that concerns us, our numbers today across the system is in the low 50’s, which is the highest it’s been in several weeks, and that actually is consistent with what we’ve seen across the entire South Florida area,” said Dr. O’Neil Pyke of Jackson Health System.

We saw a steady stream of cars lining up for COVID-19 testing and vaccinations Wednesday at the Miami-Dade College North Campus site.

“I really worry about COVID. I think we should take care of each other,” said Antonio Norwood, who was waiting to take a COVID test.

“I’m concerned, I’m still worried about it," said Victor Rivera, who had just taken a COVID test. "I’m going on a cruise Friday so I want to make sure I’m tested before I board the ship."

Doctors will tell you that’s the smart attitude to have, considering COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are on the rise. Dr. Pyke says the encouraging part, though, is that because we have a relatively high vaccination rate in South Florida and better treatments — such as the anti-viral drug Paxlovid — hospitalizations and deaths have not risen as high as they did in previous COVID waves.

“The folks who are vulnerable are the various ends of the spectrum, the very young and the very old,” Dr. Pyke said, along with the immunocompromised.

“I wear a COVID mask because I’m a cancer survivor so I want to make sure I protect myself,” Victor Rivera told us.

All of the people who spoke to us while they waited to receive a COVID test said they had already been vaccinated and that the threat of COVD was still real, and that the pandemic was still a concern.

“So vaccination has always been our number one tool in our tool kit,” Dr. Pyke said.

According to a recent British government analysis, fully vaccinated people are 93% less likely to die from COVID compared to unvaccinated people.

“The vaccine was never intended to prevent the illness, it was always there to actually prevent hospitalizations and death,” said Dr. Pyke.

Of course, he knows most of society has stopped masking up in public, but Dr. Pyke says the elderly and immunocompromised should absolutely still wear masks in crowded indoor spaces, and so should anyone who lives with a person who’s at higher risk from COVID, to protect them from the disease.

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