HOLLYWOOD, Fla. – New cases of COVID-19 continue to spike across South Florida, leading to an increase in hospitalizations.
The latest explosion in cases has led to long lines at several coronavirus testing sites.
“This is a community fight in a way we have never seen before,” said Tina Vidal-Duart, CEO of CDR Health.
In Miami-Dade County there have been some positive signs recently, with public officials seeing gains in the county’s vaccination rate of those between the ages of 12 and 19.
“Well, I see everybody around getting infected, so might as well put the vaccine in,” said 17-year-old Christian Escalona, who received his first dose on Friday.
With the state making it tougher for local leaders to impose their own mandates, some are getting creative.
City of Miami employees now have to wear masks while at work, unless they show proof of vaccination.
In Miami Beach, LIV nightclub is offering their own shots, albeit a different kind than what their used to serving.
“Saturday and Sunday night at 12:30 a.m. to 3 a.m., we are offering free vaccinations for everyone who comes to the club,” said LIV nightclub owner David Grutman. “We want to stay open, and we know the only way for that to happen is that people get vaccinated.”
Meantime, in Broward County, the need for hospital beds is also once again rising.
Health officials believe the latest surge of COVID-19 is different.
“A little disheartening, more so than the last one, or the last two or three,” said Dr. Joshua Lenchus, Chief Medical Officer for Broward Health. “Because now we have a vaccine that’s out there, and that could prevent 97 percent of Covid positive people from coming into the hospital.”
Dr. Lenchus said nearly all of their 300 COVID-19 patients that are hospitalized have not been vaccinated.
The main hospital auditorium has been converted to an overflow unit to help make room for everyone else.
“At this point, there’s still the people that are anti-vaccine,” said Dr. Lenchus. “Frankly, there’s nothing that we can do about those people, no science is going to convince them. There’s some people that aren’t getting the vaccine because their waiting for more data. I don’t know what more data you’re waiting for. 4.5 billion people in the world have been vaccinated.”
For information on where COVID-19 vaccines are available in South Florida, click here.