Florida reported over 39,000 COVID-19 cases combined over Christmas weekend, according to the latest data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The state reported 21,077 cases on Christmas Day and 17,955 on Sunday, according to the CDC data released Monday. Those daily numbers were still lower than the record-breaking 32,874 cases reported for Christmas Eve. The CDC did not release numbers on Sunday.
Florida has seen a sharp increase in new COVID-19 cases in the past week. Last Friday, it added more than 32,000 cases, a day after reporting 31,000 in one day as well.
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As another wave of COVID-19 crashes through South Florida after the holidays, there was a mad dash for testing and treatment.
From Westchester to Tropical Park, thousands of tests were administered or given out by local government and public health officials.
"We’re seeing increases across the board, but particularly in South Florida and particularly in younger people," said Jason Salemi, an epidemiologist at the University of South Florida.
Salemi compiled information from the Florida Department of Health and the CDC and found that South Florida drives the increase. In two weeks, there was 18 times the number of cases in Miami-Dade, and 14 times the number of cases in Broward.
Salemi cites crowded cities, super spreader events, and holiday and vacation travel as some of the reasons for the increase.
There’s usually a several-day delay between cases and hospitalizations, but so far, the hospitals have not been crunched like earlier waves.
"Hopefully that continues to be true, but again, hospitalizations and deaths are not the only adverse outcomes from COVID-19," Salemi said. "We’re seeing a lot of people with long COVID — these symptoms that endure two, three, six months later."
One reason that cases have not yet translated into increased hospitalizations is more people are vaccinated or have already had the virus once. But so far, epidemiologists say the omicron variant can get through prior immunity much much easier than the other waves of COVID.
At Miami-Dade County libraries, workers handed out 90,000 free take-home COVID tests. The county also distributed more than 12,000 tests at its libraries on Christmas Eve.
The number of new COVID-19 cases even forced the cancellation of the latest performance of George Balanchine’s “The Nutcracker” by the Miami City Ballet.
The dance company said it had to make “the difficult decision,” and only announced it publicly about an hour before the Sunday afternoon show at the Adrienne Arsht Center in downtown Miami.
“These are challenging times for all and we truly appreciate your support and understanding as we navigate the necessary changes,” said the statement posted on the company's Instagram page.
The Miami City Ballet has not yet announced whether the final performances slated for Wednesday and Thursday in West Palm Beach will go on as planned.
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.