MIAMI GARDENS, FLA. (WSVN) - Cases of COVID-19 are once again climbing in South Florida, and it could possibly be due to the highly infectious Delta variant of the virus.

Researchers across the state are still working to determine the cause of the rise in cases but said variants, including the Delta variant, are likely playing a role.

Florida International University’s Infectious Diseases Expert Dr. Aileen Marty spoke about the concerning rise in cases.

“We were well on our way, and things were looking phenomenal, but until we get to that level of protection in our community where the virus has nowhere to go, then it will continue to change itself and has this possibility of forming these worse variants that could just mess our whole plans up,” she said. “It’s just, it’s absolutely heartbreaking.”

Two weeks ago, there were 16,000 cases of COVID-19 throughout the week with about 2,200 cases reported a day. However, last week, the number of cases rose to 23,000 cases during the week, with approximately 3,400 cases reported a day.

Two weeks ago, the positivity rate in the state was around 5%, but last week the rate was hovering at around 8%.

Marty said she understands how some people are hesitant to get vaccinated, but it really is the best way to stay protected against COVID-19.

Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said South Florida is not behind the rise in cases.

“We are very much on top of the testing, the vaccinations,” she said. “Actually, our numbers are now that we are above 75% of those 12 and older vaccinated in our community, which is a tremendous milestone.”

Despite the milestone, hospitalizations in the county have increased.

“When you tell me that 75% of the people in Miami-Dade are vaccinated, I have questions and concerns because, as you know, many of the people who have been vaccinated in South Florida have been foreign travelers,” a Jackson Health spokesperson said.

COVID-19 vaccines remain readily available across the state, including at mega sites like Hard Rock Stadium or at local pharmacies.

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