MIAMI GARDENS, FLA. (WSVN) - Long lines have returned at COVID-19 testing sites in South Florida as cases of the virus continue to climb, and medical experts cautioned the situation will worsen if people let their guard down.

“Over the past month or month and a half, we’ve a seen a steady increase in the number of people coming out to get tested,” said Mike Jachles, a spokesperson for the Florida Division of Emergency Management.

Hard Rock Stadium, the busiest state-run testing site, saw longer waits than usual on Friday.

“Sometimes we can have wait times of about 1 to 2 hours,” said Mike Jachles, the spokesperson for the the Hard Rock Stadium site.

Depending on how long the line is, Jachles said, they may close the gates up to 2 hours early to make sure everyone in line gets through by 5 p.m.

This is something they’ve had to do the last few days.

“The last thing we want is for somebody to wait and not be able to get tested,” said Jachles.

7News cameras also captured a long line of cars winding through Holiday Park in Fort Lauderdale.

The longer lines come as the number of COVID-19 cases in the Sunshine State continue to rise.

The Florida Department of Health reported 5,245 new cases and 53 deaths on Friday.

“We had all predicted that this would happen,” said Dr. Aileen Marty, an infectious disease specialist at Florida International University.​

The positivity rate for the state is currently at 6.36%. Divided by county, the positivity rate stands as follows:

  • 6.96% in Miami-Dade
  • 6.13% in Broward
  • 12.28% in Monroe

“We’ve seen a very noticeable increase in positive cases. We have now had 3 days this week of over 1,000 infections each day in Miami-Dade,” said Miami Beach Dan Gelber. “A few weeks ago, it had been well under 500 on most days. We have not really seen thousand-infection days since August.”

Marty said that with the holidays around the corner, the region could see even more spread.​

“There’s way too many people that do not understand that this is a virus that does not only kill 5 times more than influenza, which is already a bad disease to get, but also leaves long-term complications in many people, including young people,” she said.

Marty said residents planning get-togethers should do so responsibly.

“If you can have these gatherings outdoors, if you can separate people at the gathering by households, maintain those distances and keep their masks on when they’re not actually eating or drinking,” she said.

Health officials in South Florida said several testing sites will remain closed, some as early as Saturday, while they monitor the path of Tropical Depression Eta. The system is expected to regain tropical storm-force winds as it inches closer to the Sunshine State.

For a complete list of state-run testing sites divided by county, 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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