MIAMI (WSVN) - South Florida medical experts are expressing concerns after the state’s COVID-19 positivity rate doubled in 24 hours, as a more contagious variant of the virus continues to spread.

With COVID cases expected to climb in the coming weeks and maybe months, experts are keeping a close eye on the amount of virus in the region.

“It’s going to be very important to follow this over the next couple of days,” said Dr. Mary Jo Trepka, with the Department of Epidemiology at Florida International University.

The Florida Department of Health on Friday reported 10,976 new infections statewide, with a positivity rate of 14.46%, double from the day before.

That percentage is slightly higher in Miami-Dade, meaning more than one in seven people are testing positive for the virus.

“This may be a data reporting issue,” said Trepka. “I think it’s important that we look at several days of data to know what the trends are and not to get too worried about one particular day.”

“Every indication that we have is that the numbers are going to go back up,” said Broward County Mayor Steve Geller.

While South Floridians wait and see how the virus is spreading, local leaders continue the push to vaccinate as many people as possible.

“We are ready to put shots in arms. We just need the vaccine,” said Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava.

During a conference call on Friday, a representative for Memorial Healthcare System said the state is shifting away from hospitals and sending more vaccine doses to county health departments and pharmacies.

While they’re still treating hundreds of COVID patients, officials said the new year’s surge wasn’t as bad as expected.

Broward Health officials, meanwhile, said they review their vaccine stockpike every two weeks. So far, they said, they haven’t had any issues giving patients their second shot, and they don’t anticipate any issues administering second doses in the future.

Those vaccinations are still by appointment only.

“There are no extra vaccines at the end of the day or anything like that. That’s all urban legend,” said Mike Jachles with Florida Association of Public Information Officers.

In an effort to eliminate confusion, the state is launching a new centralized system where seniors 65 and older can preregister for vaccine appointments and be notified when they become available.

“As that system is updated and more slots open up, there will be more opportunities for vaccines,” said Jachles.

To sign up, patients can log on to the state website or call the specific preregistration hotline number for their county:

  • 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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