‘It’s no joke’: COVID-19 spike has many seeking tests, vaccines

Broward and Miami-Dade testing more people and looking to get more shots in arms

"It’s really dangerous,” 12-year-old Giovanni Barrios says of why he got vaccinated against COVID-19 on Monday in Pembroke Pines. “My dad was sick with it and he did not feel well.”

With about 13,000 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in the state of Florida, lines were long Monday morning at C.B. Smith Park in Pembroke Pines with people looking to get tested.

The lines remained long into the afternoon at Tropical Park in southwest Miami-Dade County.

Giovanni Barrios Jr., 12, went to C.B. Smith with his father to get a COVID-19 vaccine ahead of the first day of middle school next week.

“It’s no joke. It’s really dangerous,” Barrios said when asked why he was getting vaccinated. “My dad was sick with it and he did not feel well.”

Barrios Sr. echoed that the coronavirus “really shot me down. I’m talking about for a whole month.”

Last week, Florida broke a record three times for the number of new COVID-19 cases reported in a single day, peaking at 23,903.

And the latest CDC metrics show that the numbers are growing still, with the last two days of data averaging more than 28,000 new cases.

“The virus is spreading so fast that contract tracing is behind and you can’t catch up,” Jared Moskowitz, the former state emergency manager now hired to advise Miami-Dade County on COVID, said Sunday on Local 10’s “This Week in South Florida.”

Shane Strum, president and CEO of Broward Health, noted that the people seeking critical help in hospitals are 95% unvaccinated.

Amid the spike in hospitalizations, the demand for testing is going up.

“For the people who are not vaccinated, let’s just make sure you’re negative,” Miami-Dade's new COVID adviser Jared Moskowitz says. “Testing, quite frankly, is the one area that didn’t become political.” And Miami-Dade is adding to that testing capacity and also looking to get results delivered faster.

“For the people who are not vaccinated, let’s just make sure you’re negative,” Moskowitz said. “Testing, quite frankly, is the one area that didn’t become political.”

Before the vaccine, testing was the key tool to slow the spread, providing critical information that informed the need for quarantines for those testing positive, and a heads-up for those who may have been in contact.

As vaccines became plentiful, testing scaled back — until now.

Miami-Dade County will be adding to the current 25 county testing sites and cutting turnaround time for results.

Broward has also expanded its testing in response to increased demand.

[CLICK HERE for information on where COVID-19 vaccines and tests are available in South Florida]

“The testing apparatus had gone away, and so the county is resetting the testing apparatus and that’s the second tool: identification of cases so people can isolate,” Moskowitz said.

Anna Burgess was among dozens of drivers who came to get tested when the gates opened at C.B. Smith Park on Monday.

“I am going on a cruise and the cruise requires me to get a test to make sure I’m negative to COVID,” she said. “It’s a little scary, because so many people are in the hospital right now with the illness and it’s, I really feel that people need to go out and get the inoculation.”

The state’s latest data shows that 81% of eligible people (12 and older) have received at least one vaccine shot in Miami-Dade, while 72% have gotten a shot in Broward.

Broward Mayor Steve Geller said that 51% percent of Broward’s population is fully vaccinated.


The fight against COVID-19 in Miami-Dade County is getting a new general, one who previously won some battles while running the state's division of emergency management.
With COVID-19 case numbers in Florida breaking daily records, there have been mixed messages from officials.

About the Authors:

Glenna Milberg joined Local 10 News in September 1999 to report on South Florida's top stories and community issues. She also serves as co-host on Local 10's public affairs broadcast, "This Week in South Florida."