As the COVID-19 vaccine rollout chugs along at various sites across South Florida, the state continues to lead the nation in coronavirus variant cases -- and Broward County leads the state in the British variant of the virus.
The head of the emergency room at Memorial Regional Hospital in Broward said in the past two weeks they've seen an uptick in COVID-19 and variant cases, especially among younger, unvaccinated patients between 30 and 60 years old.
"There's definitely an increase in the variants in the community," Dr. Randy Katz said. "Some reports have been up to 50% of the cases we're seeing are actually the UK variant."
According to recent reports by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Florida is the first state in the U.S. to surpass 3,000 variants first identified in the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil.
"As of April 7, Broward County’s percent positivity rate is 7.4%. In Florida, the British variant is now the predominant strain and Broward County has the highest percent of the British variant in the state of Florida," county mayor Steve Geller said.
Health experts say the cases could have been fueled by spring break travel.
"South Florida has become the place to be the past few months with spring break. People from the Northeast and different parts of the country have travelled here recently and that has definitely contributed to the increase that we're seeing," Katz said.
Katz said vaccines can definitely help when it comes to variants, and urged people not to let their guard down.
"I think all of the evidence supports that the vaccine is effective against the variants and I think the quicker that we can get the community vaccinated, the better off we will be," he said.