MIAMI GARDENS, FLA. (WSVN) – Thousands of South Florida residents who have returned from their travels during the Thanksgiving holiday, despite health officials warning them not to travel, are now lining up to get tested for COVID-19.
Dr. Terry Adirim with Florida Atlantic University said all the holiday weekend travel, coupled with a rise in coronavirus cases across the country, could result in a surge within the surge.
“It’s like putting gasoline on a fire,” she said.
Adirim said there could be a sharp uptick in COVID-19 cases reported later this week, as the virus spread that took place during Thanksgiving starts to reflect in test results.
“What we’re going to see, on top of the surge that we’re experiencing now, is another surge,” she said.
Some people who went to the COVID-19 testing site at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens on Monday found themselves waiting in line for up to three hours.
But Dr. Deborah Birx with the White House Coronavirus Task Force said it might be a little too early for people who traveled during the holiday weekend to get tested.
“You need to be tested about 5 to 10 days later, but you need to assume that you’re infected,” she said, “and not go near your grandparents and aunts and others without a mask.”
Medical experts said those who contracted the virus will likely not test positive until midway through this week. A negative test on Monday, they said, could give a false sense of security.
“You could have traveled, you could have been exposed, but your body does not show the virus just yet,” said Mike Jachles with the Florida Association of Public Information Officers.
Doctors said the holiday could not have been timed any worse. In Miami-Dade County, the number of hospitalizations due to COVID-19 stood at 746 on Sunday, an increase of nearly 200 patients from just 10 days ago.
“Our health care providers are just exhausted,” said Adirim.
Adirim advises those who flew out or spent time with people who are not in their bubble this past weekend to self-isolate this entire week.
“You should not be going out in public. You should not be going to work. You need to stay home,” she said.
The long lines at testing sites across South Florida come as Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava announced she and her husband, Dr. Robert Cava, had tested positive for the virus.
In a statement issued late Monday afternoon, the mayor said she and her husband are quarantining and are only experiencing mild symptoms.
On the vaccine front, Moderna announced they’ve applied for emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration for their vaccine candidate.
Moderna officials claim their vaccine was 94% effective in large-scale clinical trials.
“These data are robust and should be clearly sufficient to enable the emergency use authorization in the U.S.,” said Moderna Chief Medical Officer Tal Zaks, MD.
The final approval process should take about two weeks.
The White House, meanwhile, said the first doses of the vaccine will be shipped within 24 hours of approval.
“We want to make sure those first vaccines, the first weeks go to those most vulnerable, those where you have the biggest impact on saving lives,” said Health And Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.
Doctors said that up to 70% of the population will need to be immunized to keep the general public from contracting the virus.
Drive-thru testing sites are expected to remain busy all this week. People who are planning to get tested at one of these locations are advised to come with a full tank of gas and to bring water and snacks.
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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