It’s Thursday, December 23rd - and NBC 6 has the top stories for the day.
No. 1 - Miami-Dade is expanding COVID-19 sites and hours and bringing back mandatory masks in county buildings as the county deals with a surge in cases and high demand for testing ahead of the holidays, Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said Wednesday.
Levine Cava said the county is hoping to open between three and five new sites and expanding hours at existing sites in response to the accelerated demand for testing. The new sites and hours will be announced on the county's website. The county has seen an over 200% increase in the demand for testing in recent days, with between 40,000 and 50,000 people being tested per day. The mayor said the county had just received several thousand at-home test kits and were trying to determine the best way to distribute them.
No. 2 - With Floridians lining up by the tens of thousands for COVID tests across the state this week, University of Florida researchers predict that cases in the Sunshine State, driven by the new omicron variant, could peak in February with more than 30,000 reported cases a day.
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The report by three UF researchers said the actual number of infections, both symptomatic and asymptomatic, could be significantly higher — up to 150,000 infections a day — under the most likely scenario in Florida. At the beginning of the month, Florida had a seven-day average of just over 1,400 cases, though that number has grown significantly as the omicron variant has spread. As of Monday, Florida had a seven-day average of more than 8,600 cases, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
No. 3 - We’ve been dealing with Covid for more than a year and a half, but this latest variant has many second guessing what we should do if we think we have been exposed or are feeling sick.
This week, long lines and potential shortages of COVID-19 testing kits were once again seen in South Florida. Richard Alexander went on the hunt for an at-home rapid test after learning he may have been exposed to the virus. Dr. Dalia Hasan works with the advocacy group Covid Test Finders. She says you should try to get tested if you have been exposed or are experiencing symptoms, but if you can’t then you should self-isolate. For more tips on what to do, click here for the story from NBC 6 consumer investigator Sasha Jones.
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No. 4 - A prisoner was caught on camera brutally attacking a Miami-Dade Police officer, officials said.
Miami-Dade Police released surveillance footage of the Tuesday night attack that happened at the police department in Doral. Officials said the officer had just finished fingerprinting the unidentified prisoner and was attempting to secure the prisoner when the man tensed his arm, refused to follow commands and started to physically resist. A physical altercation ensues, and the prisoner started punching the officer in the face repeatedly. The officer lost consciousness as the prisoner continued to hit him, before a civilian employee stepped in to help the officer, officials said. The prisoner continued to fight on the ground and more officers responded before they were able to take the prisoner into custody.
No. 5 - Record-high passenger traffic on the horizon for Miami International Airport this holiday season. Getting flights in and out on time is key and there’s not a minute to waste.
Starting when the flight arrives, shocks under the wheels, and the countdown begins. They've got just 45-minutes to turn the plane around for its next flight. Two minutes after arrival, the cabin door opens. At three minutes, the cargo door pops. A minute later, the first bags are on the belt, just as 180-passengers start deplaning. Crews have to sort the bags and get the ones staying put to the carousel in 20 minutes. For more on the process that must be done so quickly, click here for the story from NBC 6 reporter Alyssa Hyman.
No. 6 - A Florida theme park has updated its mask policy amid growing COVID-19 concerns and the emerging omicron variant.
Starting Dec. 24, 2021, Universal Orlando Resort will require all guests to wear face coverings, regardless of vaccination status, at all public indoor locations, the company announced Wednesday. The mask mandate will be in effect at all Universal Orlando restaurants, shops, indoor hotel public areas, and all attractions "from the moment guests enter the queue to when they exit the experience," a news release said. All guests will be expected to bring a face covering with them for the duration of their visit.