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ICYMI: Miami Doctors Explain Best Practices for At-Home, PCR Tests, MDPD Help Solve 55-Year-Old Cold Case

Here are some of the top stories from the past week from NBC 6 News:

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Here are some of the top stories from the past week from NBC 6 News:

COVID-19 Testing: Miami Doctors Explain Best Practices for At-Home, PCR Tests

A surge in COVID-19 cases driven by the omicron variant has pushed testing capabilities in South Florida and across the country to the limit.

There are long lines for PCR tests at free county-run sites and at-home antigen tests are out of stock at most stores.

If you have symptoms such as a sore throat, congestion or fever doctors recommend you isolate until you can get a test. Even then, however, one test may not be enough.

NBC 6 reporter Laura Rodriguez tested positive with an at-home test and the following day she went to get a PCR. The PCR test, considered the gold standard, came back negative. Rodriguez followed up with another PCR test and that one came back positive.

"Symptomatic antigen is great for detecting the virus within a few days of infection. PCR tests can fluctuate up and down so if you have a viral load that is near the limit of detection for testing it can fluctuate between positive and negative,” said Dr. Jillian Harrington, Nomi Health Laboratory Director.

Dr. Harrington says it is also possible the swab was done incorrectly.

Miami-Dade Schools has adjusted its mask policy in response to the recent spike in positive COVID-19 cases. NBC 6's Ari Odzer reports

Miami-Dade Schools Requires Adults to Mask Up, Will Follow CDC's Isolation Guidance

Miami-Dade County Public Schools is updating its COVID-19 protocols in response to the rise of infections driven by the omicron variant.

Superintendent Alberto Carvalho announced Thursday in a news conference that all adults — including staff members, transportation drivers, visitors and more — who enter Miami-Dade Schools facilities will be required to wear masks.

While the district can't require them to do so, students will be strongly encouraged to wear masks.

"It is very observable to all of us that positivity rates continue to rise in our community," said Carvalho, who cited a 25% positivity rate in Miami-Dade County and rising hospitalizations among children in pediatric units.

The district will also follow the CDC's updated recommendations of shorter isolation times for those who are infected by the coronavirus.

Additionally, all spectators at school sporting events will be required to wear facial coverings.

The updated protocols will be in effect when Miami-Dade students return to campus on Monday, Jan. 3. As of now, that start date has not been pushed back and a return to remote learning is not expected.

The Miami-Dade Police Department has cracked a cold case from 1966 and now a South Florida family has closure. NBC 6's Laura Rodriguez reports.

Group of Surfside Investigators Help Solve 55-Year-Old Cold Case

A team of civilians, residents of Surfside, took up the task of investigating a 55-year-old cold case and their unwavering efforts led to a closed case.

"It was like a humongous onion. You just had to keep peeling and peeling to get to the center," Paul Novack said. 

Novack is one of five Surfside residents who made it their mission to ensure Danny Goldman’s case was not forgotten. 

10 years ago, Novack and his colleagues formed a volunteer investigative team and re-opened Danny's cold case. The group began a relentless search for answers along with the Miami-Dade Police Department's Cold Case Unit. 

"For 55 years there were no answers to what happened," Novack said. 

The day before his 18th birthday, in March 1966, Danny Goldman was kidnapped from his Surfside home. The intruder demanded a ransom, but the call for the money never came.

"We have reason to believe that Danny was murdered shortly after the kidnapping and his remains were disposed of in the ocean,” Novack said.

The key to cracking the case, Novack says, was to look at the full context of the times.

As concerns grow over the omicron variant in South Florida amid an uptick in COVID-19 cases, more people are getting tested for the virus and Gov. Ron DeSantis is encouraging the use of monoclonal antibody therapy. NBC 6's Julie Leonardi has more from Tropical Park.

Central Florida Mayor Claims Gov. DeSantis Has Been MIA During Omicron Surge

The mayor of one of Florida's largest counties on Tuesday blasted Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, saying he has been missing in action during the latest wave of COVID-19, as some counties brought back mask mandates for government workers and other municipalities opened up new testing sites in response to overwhelming demand.

The mayor of Orange County, home to Orlando, said local governments had been forced to figure out on their own, without help from the state, how to respond to the omicron variant that has rapidly overtaken the delta variant as the dominant strain of the coronavirus in Florida.

Florida hit a new record for daily cases last weekend, with the state reporting 32,850 new cases on Saturday. The state reported more than 29,000 new cases on Tuesday.

Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said new restrictions placed by DeSantis and the Florida Legislature on actions that can be taken by local governments and private businesses to combat the virus have made fighting the pandemic more difficult.

A new law signed by DeSantis last month prevents businesses from having vaccine mandates unless they allow workers to opt out, bars schools and governments from having vaccine mandates and allows parents to sue schools with masking requirements.

Demings also said the state should help foot the bill for the testing that is being conducted at county sites.

The school will tentatively return to in-class learning on January 31st.

University of Miami Returning to Remote Learning to Start Spring Semester

Students at the University of Miami will return to remote learning for the start of the upcoming semester.

UM's President, Dr. Julio Frenk, made the announcement for those students attending the Coral Gables and Marine campuses for the first two weeks of the spring semester starting January 18th.

In-person instruction is expected to resume on Monday, January 31st. Students in UM's medical school are advised to follow guidance from UHealth and the Miller School of Medicine.

Other decisions made by the school include:

  • Proof of a negative COVID test within 48 to 72 hours of arrival on campus will be required for returning students, and residential students will test again upon arrival.
  • Residence and dining halls will be available to students as planned, although all dining will be available for take-out only.
  • Residential students will be free to move in any time during the remote learning period, at their convenience.
  • In addition, indoor activities will be postponed until on-campus instruction begins, and indoor masking will continue for the foreseeable future.
  • UM's definition of “fully vaccinated” now includes receiving the appropriate booster shot, as soon as it is advisable. Students who have not documented that they are fully vaccinated will continue to test twice per week.

Leaders of Florida’s public university system on Wednesday urged students and workers to wear masks andget booster shots and COVID-19 tests when they return to campus next month.

Thirty teenagers who have been victims or living with victims of gun violence got a chance to visit Zoo Miami Wednesday. NBC 6's Claudia DoCampo reports.

Gun Violence Victims Tour Zoo Miami As Part of MDPD Youth Outreach Program

Thirty teenagers who have been impacted by gun violence got a chance to visit Zoo Miami on Wednesday. 

The teens, who have either been victims of gun violence or lived with victims of gun violence, visited with Zoo Miami staff members as part of the Miami-Dade Police Department's Youth Outreach Program.

Officer Jose Medina said the goal of the program is to introduce more educational programs to hopefully reduce gun violence in the community.

Fourteen-year-old Louis Paul was affected by indirect violence when his relative was shot.

He told NBC 6 he felt scared when his cousin got shot in the leg, but was thankful the damage wasn't worse.

As part of the Zoo Miami visit, the teens got to meet with staff members who do more than take care of the animals.

The teens got to meet Chelsea the sloth, for example, as well as the head of the gardening department that takes care of the grounds and the head of the trades department, the people that maintain the zoo.

The department also works with Big Brothers, Big Sisters during the school year to help out the kids.

The Zoo Miami Foundation sponsors some of the teens too.

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