COVID-19 infections are rising once again in some South Florida counties
Image via AP.

coronavirus test
It's unclear whether the regional rise is a temporary blip or a sign of a fourth wave.

Both Broward and Palm Beach counties are showing signs that the coronavirus could be spreading more rapidly after a weeks-long lull.

Cases have largely fallen throughout South Florida following the most recent post-holiday season spike. In the past week or two, the region’s death toll has finally followed suit. But reports from the past few days show cases could be on the rise again.

Through the first three weeks of March, Broward’s case positivity rate — that is, the share of tests coming back positive — hovered around 6%. The most recent seven-day span, from March 22-28, shows that number up to 6.7%. And that trend is even more evident in the previous four days. In that window, Broward saw daily positivity rates of 6.8%, 7.1%, 7.3% and 8%.

Palm Beach’s numbers aren’t quite as dire. The region has gone from a positivity rate around 5.5% in the middle of March to a rate of 6% over the past seven days. No single day has seen the positivity rate eclipse 6.6%.

But the region has rarely seen spikes this large week-to-week since the post-holiday surge. One exception was in Miami-Dade County in mid-March, but that was due to a one-day outlier in the case positivity rate, which so far has not been repeated.

Currently, Miami-Dade’s case positivity rate is down week-to-week, though Monday’s report did show a positivity rate near 7.6% on Sunday.

It’s too early to say whether this is clear evidence of a fourth wave in the state’s most populous region. But CDC Director Rochelle Walensky has been speaking out, warning the nation of that possibility even as the vaccination effort continues hitting major milestones.

“We have so much to look forward to, so much promise and potential of where we are and so much reason for hope,” Walensky said recently. “But right now, I’m scared.”

More than 900,000 people in South Florida are now fully vaccinated, and the region is nearing 2.5 million doses administered as well. But the benefits of those efforts will be mitigated if cases continue rising in the days and weeks ahead.

South Florida added 1,564 new cases in Monday’s Department of Health report. That puts the region above 787,000 total COVID-19 cases. The region recorded 15 new deaths, putting the overall death toll at 11,088.

Here are some of the weekly numbers for the previous three weeks throughout the South Florida tri-county area:

Miami-Dade

— March 8-14: 32 newly-reported hospitalizations per day, 16 newly-reported deaths per day, 1,047 new confirmed cases per day, 5.9% positivity rate, 18,275 vaccine doses administered per day, 5,994 vaccinations completed per day

— March 15-21: 28 newly-reported hospitalizations per day, 8 newly-reported deaths per day, 1,209 new confirmed cases per day, 6.6% positivity rate, 20,246 vaccine doses administered per day, 7,233 vaccinations completed per day

— March 22-28: 29 newly-reported hospitalizations per day, 12 newly-reported deaths per day, 1,171 new confirmed cases per day, 5.9% positivity rate, 20,891 vaccine doses administered per day, 9,739 vaccinations completed per day

Broward

— March 8-14: 19 newly-reported hospitalizations per day, 10 newly-reported deaths per day, 587 new confirmed cases per day, 6.1% positivity rate, 11,531 vaccine doses administered per day, 3,937 vaccinations completed per day

— March 15-21: 17 newly-reported hospitalizations per day, 7 newly-reported deaths per day, 602 new confirmed cases per day, 6% positivity rate, 13,039 vaccine doses administered per day, 4,830 vaccinations completed per day

— March 22-28: 13 newly-reported hospitalizations per day, 5 newly-reported deaths per day, 667 new confirmed cases per day, 6.7% positivity rate, 12,275 vaccine doses administered per day, 4,584 vaccinations completed per day

Palm Beach

— March 8-14: 14 newly-reported hospitalizations per day, 7 newly-reported deaths per day, 356 new confirmed cases per day, 5.6% positivity rate, 8,525 vaccine doses administered per day, 4,168 vaccinations completed per day

— March 15-21: 13 newly-reported hospitalizations per day, 4 newly-reported deaths per day, 316 new confirmed cases per day, 5.5% positivity rate, 7,194 vaccine doses administered per day, 2,821 vaccinations completed per day

— March 22-28: 9 newly-reported hospitalizations per day, 7 newly-reported deaths per day, 367 new confirmed cases per day, 6% positivity rate, 7,767 vaccine doses administered per day, 2,353 vaccinations completed per day

Ryan Nicol

Ryan Nicol covers news out of South Florida for Florida Politics. Ryan is a native Floridian who attended undergrad at Nova Southeastern University before moving on to law school at Florida State. After graduating with a law degree he moved into the news industry, working in TV News as a writer and producer, along with some freelance writing work. If you'd like to contact him, send an email to [email protected]



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