Sixth wave: Miami COVID-19 cases on the rise again

After the Omicron wave hit Miami-Dade County in January and the seven-day positivity rate peaked at a whopping 35 percent, COVID-19 cases began a steady week-to-week decline, and by mid-March the rates were at their lowest they’ve been on record. been: 2 percent seven-day case positivity. For a while, it seemed that the end of the pandemic was finally in sight as restrictions on mandatory face coverings and social gatherings were relaxed.

Unfortunately, if there was light at the end of the tunnel, we can’t see it anymore.

Miami-Dade’s seven-day positivity has been rising slowly every week for the past two months. It now stands at 22 percent, according to the county’s latest COVID-19 dashboard released Monday — the highest level since January — and the numbers are expected to continue to climb. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists the level of community transition in Miami-Dade as “high.”

dr. Aileen Marty, a distinguished professor of infectious diseases at Florida International University and a COVID-19 advisor for Miami and Miami-Dade County, tells New times that South Florida is not only in the middle of the “sixth wave” of COVID-19, but the percentage is likely to be much higher than the numbers indicate, given the significant number of people using home kits and not reporting the results to the official counts from the Florida Department of Health and CDC.

“We’re not as high as we were at Omicron’s peak, but we’re still pretty high, and our positivity is definitely an undercount,” explains Marty. “It’s definitely something that’s growing.”

According to the Florida Department of Health, Miami-Dade has one of the highest vaccination rates in the state: 99 percent among residents 5 years and older. By now, about half of all Miami-Dade residents have contracted COVID-19 at least once since March 2020. While both are promising stats about the region’s infectious and vaccinated immunity, the SARS-CoV-2 virus is constantly mutating, and new, emerging variants neutralize and limit the effectiveness of antibodies over time. Some speculate that herd immunity — that is, when enough people have developed resistance to the virus to limit its spread — is now a myth when it comes to COVID-19.

“It’s a coronavirus and we’ve known for decades that immunity doesn’t last,” Marty says.

Jackson and Baptist Health’s health systems report a sharp rise in hospitalizations from COVID-19 with 122 and 117 patients, respectively, being hospitalized for COVID-19. The vast majority — 76 percent — are unvaccinated, Marty says; the remaining 24 percent of patients are vaccinated but “immunocompromised” or have “significant underlying disease.”

“I’ve talked to the folks at Jackson and Baptist and they’re seeing a really significant increase,” Marty . said New times† “It’s less of a public health threat than it was because the percentage of people likely to end up in hospital has decreased dramatically because of previous infection, vaccination and boosting.”

For now, Marty recommends individuals conduct their own “risk assessment” before going out in public, evaluating the risk of exposure before each outing, and the age, health, and vaccine status of people they could be exposed to if infected. . She recommends getting a booster shot two weeks before attending an event with a high risk of exposure, such as a wedding. (If a person does contract COVID-19, Marty recommends waiting at least 33 days after a negative test to receive a vaccine or booster dose.)

“Now that we’re officially at 22 percent, there’s a very good chance we’re inside somewhere with strangers spreading the virus,” she says.

In the meantime, Marty urges residents to continue “common sense” practices, which include gathering outside instead of inside, washing your hands, and wearing face coverings when indoors. Not only is there an increase in COVID-19 cases, Marty notes, but other viruses are also spreading rapidly after years of social distancing kept them at bay.

“We’re seeing skyrocketing flu rates,” says the public health expert. “We’ve never seen so much flu at this time of year.”

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