Miami-Dade expands COVID testing, brings back partial mask mandate

Mayor urges vaccines and outdoor gatherings during the holidays

Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava says the county is expanding coronavirus testing as the demand rises and cases surge, but she also pleaded Wednesday for residents to get vaccinated if they aren’t already.

MIAMI – Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava says the county is expanding coronavirus testing as the demand rises and cases surge, but she also pleaded Wednesday for residents to get vaccinated if they aren’t already.

“We know that getting vaccinated and boosted is the single most important thing we can do to protect ourselves and our loved ones,” she said, noting that the vaccines are widely available. “There is nothing you can do that is better than that. … Don’t head to the test line [if you’re unvaccinated and not experiencing symptoms]. Head to the vaccine line.”

Levine Cava also announced that the mask mandate inside county-owned buildings is back in place, effective Wednesday, and she reiterated that the county is pushing for more monoclonal antibodies for COVID-positive patients with symptoms after doses dwindled.

Jackson Health said that there is “early evidence that [Regeneron’s monoclonal antibodies] may be less effective against the omicron variant,” so the mayor said she has asked the federal government to include a new brand of the treatment as they replenish their supply.

“We are using this treatment method a lot here in South Florida, oftentimes 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, and the monoclonal treatment should be available to those who have become sick despite vaccination.”

WATCH A REPLAY OF THE NEWS CONFERENCE BELOW:

She said they were “doing about 400 doses a day” but now the supply is about 80 per day, and it is by appointment only at Tropical Park.

As for testing, the mayor said the county has seen a 200% increase in demand in recent days. More sites will open, and hours will expand, with further details to be posted at miamidade.gov/COVID.

Levine Cava also urged the community to take advantage of the weather and gather outdoors this holiday season to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19.

“Please, everyone, let’s use common sense,” she said.

The message comes as Florida reported 20,194 new infections to the CDC from the previous day, the state’s largest single-day leap since Sept. 1.

Miami-Dade County and Broward County are working to expand testing locations as the surge in cases around the holidays has led more people to get in long lines at park sites.

Levine Cava added that Miami-Dade is poised to get Pfizer’s COVID pill that was just approved by U.S. regulators on Wednesday.

“We are laying the groundwork also to offer Pfizer antiviral pills at the [testing] sites as soon as they are approved and available,” she said.

Like much of the nation, Florida has faced a concerning spike of infections in recent days. Nearly 13,000 new cases were reported to the CDC from Monday, the state’s largest leap since Sept. 11.

Positivity rates have been particularly high in South Florida, state data shows.

For information on where you can get a COVID-19 test or vaccine across South Florida, click here.


About the Authors:

Christina returned to Local 10 in 2019 as a reporter after covering Hurricane Dorian for the station. She is an Edward R. Murrow Award-winning journalist and previously earned an Emmy Award while at WPLG for her investigative consumer protection segment "Call Christina."