New coronavirus cases surge in South Florida prompting concern among health experts

MIAMI GARDENS, FLA. (WSVN) - Florida saw another record one-day increase in coronavirus cases, with 5,508 new cases reported Wednesday.

It was a similar situation on Thursday when 5,004 additional cases were reported by the Florida Department of Health.

Miami-Dade County reported 885 new cases, while Broward County reported 367. Monroe County is up 14 cases.

Officials in Miami-Dade are preparing to go into communities with high number of infections, like Miami’s Allapattah neighborhood, to make sure residents understand why wearing a mask is so important.

The governor’s office said the average age for new infections is 33 years old, keeping the death rate down.

Jackson Health is now treating over 200 people throughout South Florida for COVID-19.

That pushes the total over 114,000 for the entire state.

Many South Floridians are wondering when the state is going to turn the corner.

Ron Hubbard, who received a COVID-19 test at the Hard Rock Stadium Wednesday, said, “I’ve got to tell you, it’s kind of scary because this is the first time in history we’ve dealt with a disease we had no idea about. This is my third attempt this week to get here, and they almost always run out of tests.”

South Florida has become the new epicenter for the disease throughout the country.

Anita Lozano, who also received a test, said, “It is concerning that we’re getting the numbers.”

Long lines were spotted at Hard Rock Stadium, as well as the Miami Beach Convention Center for two consecutive days.

“I don’t know the exact number of kits they had for the day, but they ran out at approximately 1 p.m, so they had to cut the lines and the drive-up,” Lozano said.

The state reported there are only 25% of hospital beds still available in the South Florida area.

The ICU at Homestead Hospital has just two beds available. Earlier, this week, it was completely full.

Dr. Lillian Abbo of Jackson Health Systems said, “If you don’t like wearing a mask, you’re not going to like wearing a ventilator. It’s really frustrating when we’re seeing people walking around with their mask below the mouth.”

Local leaders are warning older people to remain cautious as the amount of new cases among younger people continue to rise.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez said, “Be very careful, and not get close to your kids or grandkids. Obviously there is no county order that will make people do this. Just common sense, and it’s a matter of life and death.”

Gimenez also identified three coronavirus hot spots in the county.

The message in Broward County is follow the rules, or else.

Broward County Mayor Dale Holness said, “Order 28 calls for us to be able to shut down businesses that are not conforming. We must do everything we can to protect ourselves and each other.”

Those who don’t comply in Broward County could face a $500 fine starting Friday. Businesses that don’t comply will be shut down for 24 hours.

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez announced a new punishment for not complying.

Suarez said on CNN, “Tomorrow, we’re going to be asking the city commission by emergency ordinance, to implement a civil fine if you’re not wearing the mask in public, which will be a fine up to $250 for failure to follow the law.”

Dr. Aileen Marty, an infectious disease expert at FIU, said, “What’s going on with our numbers, is not just because of testing. It’s truly an increase in the percent of people who are becoming infected.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said, “From the beginning of May, we advised if you can’t social distance, wear the mask.”

City officials said another shutdown may be possible if new cases do not begin to flatten out soon.

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