MIAMI GARDENS, FLA. (WSVN) – January marked a grim milestone, especially as the new variant of the coronavirus continues to spread in the United States. Now, there is a fear that Miami is at a higher risk of being exposed to the new strain.
“We have a breathing room right now, but if these new variants become dominant in our country we are going to be right back where we were in November or December and perhaps even worse,” said Brown University professor Dr. Megan Ranney.
Despite a drop in hospitalizations nationwide, the seven-day average of new COVID-19 cases is similar to what it was in December.
The average number of deaths per day has more than doubled since that time.
“The surge that is likely to occur with this new variant from England is going to happen in the next six to 14 weeks,” said Michael Osterholm of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at University of Minnesota, “and if we see that happen, which my 45 years in the trenches tell us we will, we are going to see something like we have not seen yet in this country.”
Experts say Miami is at the highest risk of seeing this.
“I think that the possibility is that we’re not going to see a national epidemic with b117, at least in the spring or the summertime,” said Former FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb. “It’s a risk to the fall, but what we’re likely to see is regionalized epidemics with this new variant and the two places in the country right now that are the biggest hotspots are Southern California and Southern Florida — Miami.”
Gottlieb said those are the areas where everyone needs to be very mindful of these more contagious variants.
City of Miami Mayor Francis Suarez said there are steps he has in mind to prevent the spread, but he’s being restricted by the governor from putting those mitigation measures in place.
“I had implemented a mask in public order back when we were allowed to do that during the summer and that drove down cases by 90%,” he said. ‘Now we’re not allowed to implement a mask in public order.”
Still, he said there is good news. The numbers show hospitalizations are down in the city by more than 50% from the summer.
“Even though we are obviously battling with a new strain, that is not, thankfully, at this point materializing,” Suarez said.
“We know what works. Prior immunity and the vaccines do appear to be as effective against this new variant, so as we immunize more of the population and if people continue to wear masks and be vigilant in these parts of the country, we can keep this at bay, said Gottlieb. “It’s not too late.”
Florida has developed a pre-registration system for people trying to make vaccination appointments.
When people log on or call the number for their county, they will be alerted once an appointment slot has become available.
State leaders advise residents to be patients and keep trying the pregistration site and the phone numbers divided by county. They are as follows:
- Miami-Dade: 888-499-0840
- Broward: 866-201-6313
- Monroe: 866-201-7069
For updated information about vaccinations in Florida, click here.
Anyone with questions and concerns about the coronavirus can call the Florida Department of Health’s 24-hour hotline at 1-866-779-6121.
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