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 demand has just accelerated in the last week," Levine Cava said at a news conference Wednesday morning.
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.
Levine Cava said the county has seen an "alarming rise" in COVID-19 cases, and said the omicron variant has been "rapidly spreading like wildfire."
The county's cases have increased by over 300% over the seven days leading up to Dec. 19, according to the county's latest COVID-19 dashboard.
Despite the spike in cases, deaths and hospitalizations in the county haven't seen dramatic increases.
As the cases increase, Levine Cava said Miami-Dade would be bringing back mandatory masking in county buildings effective Wednesday.
The mayor also spoke about the shortage of monoclonal antibody treatments in Florida, and said the county has a very limited supply.
Levine Cava said it's estimated that the supply could last only through Sunday, and said the county is prioritizing people who have tested positive for Covid. She said she's reached out to the federal government and sent a letter to the Florida Department of Health asking that Miami-Dade be prioritized in any future shipments of the treatment.
"We are using this treatment method a lot here in South Florida, often times because people have viewed it as an alternative to vaccination," Levine Cava said. "It is not an alternative to vaccination, nothing is better than vaccination."
The county is also laying the groundwork for offering Pfizer's antiviral pills at Covid sites as soon as they receive approval, which could come as soon as this week, Levine Cava said.
The mayor stressed the importance of getting vaccinated and getting booster shots ahead of the holidays.
"Get boosted today, you're safe for the holidays, there is nothing that you could do that is better than that to protect yourself and your loved ones," Levine Cava said. "I know how frustrating it can feel that we are facing these challenges all over again. We are all frustrated, we are all impatient especially as we enter the holiday season."
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