As of Saturday, 584,000 residents of Miami Dade County have been infected by the COVID-19 virus, according to data compiled by The New York Times.
Virus-related deaths in the county stands at 6,472, the Times reported.
After a spring and summer of relatively low numbers, mostly due to the availability of vaccines, mask use and social distancing, a new surge of COVID cases and deaths has struck South Florida and the nation. The cause? A more insidious version of the virus known as the Delta variant.
Miami Dade County recently reported that in the seven days up to Aug. 11, there was a 26.47% rise in positive COVID tests, a 24.4% rise in hospitalizations, a 5% increase in ICU beds being used for Covid patients, and an increase in deaths (although the data is unclear as to how many).
The majority of new patients have been unvaccinated. For example, 152 new unvaccinated patients with COVID on Aug. 12, versus 38 vaccinated admissions. For more information, click here.
“We have recently seen an enormous and alarming rise in COVID cases across our community and the country,” said Miami Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava in a message to county residents this week. “As I’ve pledged from the beginning, if we see a spike in positive tests, we would take all necessary steps to protect our community, including making updated recommendations with full transparency about the facts.”
In keeping with Centers for Disease Control guidelines, she said, masks are again required at all indoor county facilities. “Even vaccinated people should wear masks in certain settings to maximize protection from the Delta variant,” said Cava, adding:
“Getting vaccinated remains the single best step any of us can take to protect ourselves and our loved ones and reduce the spread of the virus. Find a vaccine site near you: miamidade.gov/vaccine.”
In Key Biscayne, all government offices and buildings now require face masks, said Key Biscayne’s Fire Chief Eric Lang. The Village is still under an emergency order, which allows restaurants to maintain outdoor dining, he said.
As the number of cases rise, residents have several choices to help them remain safe. These will all sound very familiar -- mask wearing, social distancing, testing and -- most importantly -- getting vaccinated.
The Village offers testing at two sites operated by Curative: the Village Green kiosk, and at Calusa Park in a van. Neither requires an appointment. Lang said they are testing between 100-500 residents a day.
COVID tests are also available without an appointment at the Baptist Health Urgent Care Center on 240 Crandon Blvd., Suite 110.
CVS at 726 Crandon Blvd. has tests available, but you must make an appointment through their website. Appointments are not being taken at the store or over the phone.
Chief Lang said 84% of Village residents over age 18 have been vaccinated, and 67% of those aged 12-17.
From 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on August 19-20, residents can receive free vaccinations at the Community Center . No appointment is needed.
“We will be offering these events every three weeks,” Lang said. “We have the Pfizer vaccine consistently, but residents usually do not get to pick which brand of vaccine, since our supply depends on what the government sends us.”
Walk-ins for vaccinations are also available at CVS, and the store is offering a 20% shopping discount with the vaccine. Children under 16 must be accompanied by a parent.
With the dynamic nature of the pandemic due to the Delta variant, Village officials say they are remaining diligent to meeting the community’s needs. They noted that, with school returning, a special attention will be paid to students’ health.
Children 12 and older are eligible to get vaccinated.
Mandatory masks for schoolchildren are under consideration throughout the state. Some districts - like Broward County - have already established rules requiring it -- despite Gov. Ron DeSantis threatening to withhold salaries from school board members who defy his mask ban.
Alberto Carvalho, the county’s Public Schools’ superintendent, said he is not backing down from the DeSantis threat.
In a statement this week he said he would consult with public health experts to decide whether students should wear masks. A decision is expected by August 16.
The state’s fourth largest school district starts classes on August 23.