COVID-19 crisis: Doctor warns surge from NYE parties has yet to be felt

MIAMI – South Florida hospitals have yet to deal with the surge of COVID-19 cases that will likely result from contagion during crowded New Year’s Eve parties, Dr. Bindu Mayi warned on Friday.

Mayi, an infectious disease expert with Nova Southeastern University, said the time from coronavirus exposure to symptom onset, known as the incubation period, is from three to 14 days.

The current upward trend in infections in South Florida concerns Mayi because it makes people who are at risk of dying from COVID-19 more vulnerable.

“That could very well overwhelm the system because these individuals will need additional care will need hospitalization,” Mayi said.

Florida has shattered records three times in the last week. The lack of restrictions attracted tourists during New Year’s Eve. All while officials work to keep up with the high demand for testing and vaccinations to help save lives during the pandemic.

More than 23,000 people have died as a result of the pandemic in Florida, including nearly 22,700 Florida residents and 345 non-residents, according to the Florida Department of Health. And there is evidence the more contagious British COVID-19 variant is already spreading in parts of Florida.

In South Florida, Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava and Broward Mayor Steve Geller have both been working on helping to optimize the systems to test more people and speed up the vaccination campaign.

Mike Jachles, of the Florida Association of Public Information Officers, is asking the public for patience as the temporary drive-thru area at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens is offering both tests and vaccines. The lines are always long there and drivers wait for hours.

For now, Gov. Ron DeSantis is only allowing the vaccination of healthcare personnel and seniors ages 65 and older. President-elect Joe Biden plans to accelerate the distribution of both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. Both require two doses to provide about 95% protection.

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