Officials Urge Vaccines As Coronavirus Infections Spike

MIAMI (AP) — Officials in Florida's most populous county are encouraging residents to get vaccinated against coronavirus as infection rates once again spike in the state.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava and other government, public safety and health officials released a statement Tuesday urging people to take the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible. Miami-Dade has already achieved a vaccination rate of over 75%, according to the Florida Department of Health.

“For nearly a year and a half, our healthcare workers and first responders have put their lives on the line and made enormous sacrifices to protect our residents,” Levine Cava said in a statement. “If we can all step up and do our part once more — by getting this vaccine — we can slow the spread and prevent the variants from reversing the great progress we have already made.”

In less than a month, positive tests have increased from 3.6% to 8.6% in Miami-Dade County, officials said. In the last three weeks, the number of COVID-positive inpatients at Miami's Jackson Health System has increased 178%. More than 95% of the new patients are unvaccinated, and more than 40% are under age 50.

Dr. Lilian Abbo, head of the hospital’s infectious disease prevention program, said in a statement that believes most of the new patients infected with the delta variant as they are becoming sicker faster and 10 times more infectious. She said even people in their 20s and 30s with no risk factors are becoming extremely sick.

“I really encourage everyone, young and old, to get vaccinated," Abbo said in a statement. "This is no longer the disease of the very elderly, nursing homes. This is affecting everyone.”

Though no official mask mandate is in place, officials are also urging residents to wear masks around large crowds. Children under the age of 12, who are ineligible for the vaccine, should also mask up around others, officials said.