It’s Tuesday, December 21st - and NBC 6 has the top stories for the day.
No. 1 - Long lines and potential shortages of COVID-19 testing kits were once again seen in South Florida Monday as the rush was on to get tested ahead of the holidays amid a rise in cases.
At Tropical Park in Miami-Dade County, the line for Covid testing stretched back into the eastbound and westbound lanes of Bird Road Monday. At Jose Marti Park in Miami, people waiting in line for a test were told they were running out of rapid tests Monday. And at the Salvation Army site on West Flagler Street in Miami, it was announced that they'd run out of PCR tests, although a new batch was on the way. Most walk-up and drive-through sites in the county were seeing long lines as Florida reported close to 30,000 new Covid cases in the state last week, more than twice the amount reported the week before. Miami-Dade County's latest weekly dashboard showed Covid cases have increased 334% from Dec. 10 to Dec. 17.
No. 2 - South Florida hospitals are coping with a rise in COVID-19 cases due to the omicron variant, which officials said is quickly spreading.
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Dr. Marc Napp with Memorial Healthcare System used a color-coded chart to characterize this past weekend's rise in cases. Dr. Hany Atallah with Jackson Health System said he's seeming a similar spike. But, Atallah said hospitalizations are way down compared to the peak of the Delta variant this past summer. As a result, hospitals in South Florida are not being overwhelmed. It’s a reboot of the reporting, which halted during the summer because the Delta variant numbers dropped significantly. But that’s over with the rapid spread of omicron. Click here for more in a report from NBC 6’s Steve Litz.
No. 3 - A Royal Caribbean ship returned to Miami on Saturday with 48 guests and crew members testing positive for COVID-19, a company spokesperson said.
Now, a woman who was on board the cruise ship says she believes there may have been more positive cases on board. Alicia D'Amico says as she started feeling sick on night six of the Symphony of the Seas voyage. Royal Caribbean's Symphony of the Seas set sail on December 11th with 6,091 passengers -- 95% of whom were fully vaccinated. D'Amico is also fully vaccinated but has not received her booster shot. When she finally got ahold of someone the next day, D'Amico said she was told she would have to pay for a doctor's visit in addition to the COVID-19 test. Click here for what happened next in a report from NBC 6’s Cristian Benavides.
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No. 4 - wo people are in custody after a brawl broke out at Miami International Airport Monday night.
Miami-Dade police officers were called to gate H8 shortly after 6:30 p.m. after an airport employee reported a disturbance due to a delayed charter flight. Upon arriving at the gate, officers then found an "unruly passenger" had taken the keys to an airport transport golf cart, and refused to let the employee leave, police said. Video footage by Only in Dade shows a large crowd surrounding one of the officers, who had someone in a hold. The officer appears to be grabbed and pushed by the crowd when he then let go of his hold. He could then be seen holding what appears to be a weapon while radioing for help with his other hand. The circumstances surrounding the officer’s withdrawal of his weapon is being investigated, Miami-Dade Police said.
No. 5 - A University of Miami student and ROTC member is on his way to West Point after NBC 6 Investigators reported on the tough spot similar candidates were in following the death of Rep. Alcee Hastings.
Each member of Congress gets to make ten nominations to the military academies from their local district. That was not possible for candidates like Justin Torres after Hastings passed away earlier this year. Governor DeSantis set the special election for his replacement for January 11. The deadline to apply to the military academies is January 31, but the interview and selection process happens months before that, according to military academy staff. Torres’s goal is to attend the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and serve for at least five years afterward as a tank commander. His family, however, moved into Hastings’s district, Florida Congressional District 20, so he did not have a local member of Congress to nominate him. Click here to see what happened in a report from NBC 6 investigator Phil Prazan.
No. 6 - Some cyclists in South Florida say they have hit a roadblock and that barriers on the Venetian Causeway, that were designed to protect them, are having the opposite effect.
The Venetian Causeway is one of the highest volume corridors for cyclists in Miami-Dade County. Those who ride, like Lee Marks, consider the sport a moving meditation. But Marks says cycling can be hard to enjoy when riders have to worry about their safety. The dangerous obstacle Marks is referring to—new separation devices, called armadillos. But the county says the newly installed armadillos are intended to keep cars from sliding into the bike lanes. Click here for more on why each side stands by their position in a report from NBC 6’s Jamie Guirola.