Demand for testing remains high as COVID-19 cases rise across Florida

Cases of COVID-19 continue to rise across Florida, with the state reporting nearly 70,000 new cases to the CDC on Saturday.

MIAMI – Cases of COVID-19 continue to rise across Florida, with the state reporting nearly 70,000 new cases to the CDC on Saturday.

Data shows the state’s seven-day case average is the highest it has ever been.

More than 138,000 Americans were hospitalized for COVID-19 as of Saturday, according to data from the Department of Health and Human Services.

That’s nearly double the number of US patients recorded just two weeks ago.

“We’re certainly in a crushing spike right now, but the nature of a pandemic is to come in waves and so I do think at some point the omicron wave will pass, but we have to be wary that there can be further waves down the road,” Dr. Taison Bell, the Asst. Professor of Medicine at the University of Virginia.

Several states, including California, Ohio and Delaware, have now brought in the National Guard to help with patient care.

Here in South Florida, Jackson Memorial Hospital sending out a tweet, saying of their 512 Covid-positive patients, a little more than half were admitted for non-Covid reasons.

Only 24.6% of those hospitalized individuals have been vaccinated.

“We are seeing a virus evolve in real time, and each phase of this is different and requires a different response and a different reaction,” said Kathleen Sebelius, Former HHS Secretary.

There’s also been a noticeable spike in the number of kids being hospitalized with Covid, fueling the debate over a return to virtual learning.

School districts, including Miami-Dade County, now figuring out ways to cover staffing shortages amid this current case surge.

“We must keep our schools open,” said Keri Rodrigues, President and Co-Founder of the National Parents Union. “They are essential. They are not nice to have, they are must haves.”

The rapid rise in infections has causing a huge demand for testing.

Drivers lined up bright and early on Saturday in both Miami-Dade and Broward Counties as officials handed out free, at-home test kits.

The sudden case surge has also impacted several cruise ship operations.

The latest one being Royal Caribbean’s Jewel of the Seas, which has cancelled all sailing through mid-February.

Passengers arriving back to Port Miami on Sunday morning said they weren’t aware of any confirmed cases of Covid, adding they always felt safe while on board.

“I believe that Royal Caribbean has handled this entire situation extremely well,” said passenger Heide Webster from Chicago. “And to hear that they’re cancelling the next set of sailings to make sure that their crew is healthy and that everything is done according to protocol, I think they’re being very responsible.”

About the Authors:

Trent Kelly is an award-winning multimedia journalist who joined the Local 10 News team in June 2018. Trent is no stranger to Florida. Born in Tampa, he attended the University of Florida in Gainesville, where he graduated with honors from the UF College of Journalism and Communications.

Terrell Forney joined Local 10 News in October 2005 as a general assignment reporter. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, but a desire to escape the harsh winters of the north brought him to South Florida.