South Florida has passed peak of omicron surge, experts say

43,179 new cases reported from Tuesday, 5th straight day under 50K

The peak of the latest COVID-19 surge is now behind hospitals in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, according to the head of the Florida Hospital Association.

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. – The height of the COVID-19 omicron variant surge may be behind us in South Florida, experts say.

“In Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, hospitals have already experienced their peak,” Mary Mayhew, president and CEO of the Florida Hospital Association, said Wednesday. “Because of the population in the area, not surprisingly, southeast Florida was seeing higher percentages of hospitalizations. They are now also seeing the greatest decline.”

The omicron wave hit South Florida fast, driving up the number of people infected.

Last week the state set a record with 430,297 new COVID-19 cases reported, which equates to more than 61,000 per day. But the state has reported fewer than 50,000 new infections to the CDC for the past few days, the latest being 43,179 from Tuesday.

A single-day record 77,075 new cases were reported statewide on Jan. 8.

COVID hospitalizations across the state sat around 11,500 on Wednesday, and Mayhew said discharges are happening faster with omicron compared to the delta variant surge this past summer when hospitalizations reached 17,000.

“Our hospitals are seeing either a flattening or a decrease in hospitalizations for COVID. That is tremendous news,” she said. “We are not seeing the level of acuity in terms of the need for ICU beds, and certainly the length of stay is less, so that is leading to individuals being in and out of the hospital much more quickly.”

Memorial Healthcare System Chief Medical Officer Dr. Marc Napp said numbers there are on a downward trend.

“We are no longer seeing huge numbers of people coming in with COVID symptoms,” he said. “At our peak in the last wave, delta, which was our highest peak, we had 740 patients. We got up to 690, close to 700 this time, and we are now back down to the mid 600s.

Jackson North Medical Center’s CMO Dr. O’Neil Pyke said their numbers are plateauing.

“One positive thing is that the hospitalizations have not gone up as high as we thought or feared it too,” he said Tuesday.

Mayhew said many of the healthcare workers who were out with COVID during this wave are now back.

“Fewer staff are out sick, so the trends are all heading in the right direction,” she said.

“Southeast Florida definitely seeing some very encouraging trends and a decline in the positivity rates, in the numbers of individuals coming to the emergency department, and certainly the number of hospitalizations,” Mayhew added.

ALSO SEE: Free at-home COVID test kits to every American can be ordered online

For information on where you can get a COVID-19 test or vaccine in 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."