The news of Miami-Dade County Commission chairman Jose “Pepe” Diaz’s positive test results for COVID-19 highlights an increase in the number of cases - both in those who have been vaccinated and those who still have not.
Infectious disease experts say they’re seeing alarming increases of hospitalizations among those who are not vaccinated.
“Many of them are younger people, unvaccinated in their 20s to 50s,” said Dr. Lilian Abbo, an infectious disease specialist with Jackson Health Systems. “People are getting very sick, very rapidly. People are coming in short of breath and within 24 hours, they’re very sick.”
Jackson Health Systems reports almost double the number of people sick with COVID at its hospitals over the last week. On July 5th, 57 patients were treated. That number jumped to 102 on Monday.
Experts say variants, like the Delta variant, are more contagious and severe and have become most of what’s circulating in the community. They stress that people go back to mask wearing, especially indoors, to prevent a major outbreak.
“The behavior we are seeing across the city of Miami and Miami-Dade County is people acting like the pandemic is over. It’s not over,” Dr. Abbo said. “We are seeing more people getting sick, so please do your part.”
The Florida Department of Health's COVID-19 Weekly Situation report released Friday showed there were 23,697 new cases for the week ending on Thursday, more than 7,600 more than the 16,031 new cases reported the previous week and more than double the weekly cases reported in late May and early June.
Abbo added they are seeing a few “breakthrough infections” in which vaccinated people contract the virus, as was the case with Diaz and his chief of staff, Isidro Lopez.
Both received the Pfizer vaccine months ago, but tested positive for COVID-19 as was confirmed Sunday. Diaz had trouble breathing and was taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital as a precaution for treatment.
Just over 11 million people 12 and older have been vaccinated in the state, or about 58% of those who are eligible.
South Florida's vaccination rate is higher than the state's, with about 73% vaccinated in Miami-Dade, 66% in Broward, 68% in Monroe and 62% in Palm Beach.