COVID-19 cases were nearly cut in half across South Florida’s three major counties this week in yet another sign the omicron surge has peaked in the region.
The report released last week, covering Jan. 7-13, showed cases dropped week-to-week in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties for the first time since November. But the reduction was slight. Broward and Palm Beach saw a 4% reduction in cases while Miami-Dade’s caseload dropped by 15%.
The latest numbers, released Friday by the Department of Health, show a far more significant drop during the week of Jan. 14-20. Cases dropped by 44% week-to-week in Palm Beach County, 49% in Miami-Dade and 52% in Broward.
Hospitalizations and deaths remain the most important metrics for judging the outbreak’s severity. Deaths are rising week-to-week statewide, but have not reached the heights seen during prior surges. The same goes for hospitalizations, and that’s likely to remain true with cases falling so sharply. That’s due in part to omicron causes less severe symptoms and in part due to the large number of individuals who have been vaccinated. Those shots lessen the severity of infection.
Still, the large number of people getting sick led to complications, especially with workers calling out. With cases on the decline, that could signal a sense of normalcy will soon be returning, though another impactful COVID-19 strain could emerge.
Case positivity rates also fell week-to-week in all three major South Florida counties. The positivity rate dropped by 4.9 points in Palm Beach County (29.7% to 24.8%), 5.1 points in Miami-Dade County (25.3% to 20.2%) and 6.8 points in Broward County (28.1% to 21.3%).
Even with the fall, regional case positivity rates remain near all-time highs. And they show there is still significant spread in the region even as raw case counts drop (perhaps due, in part, to some cases being identified by at-home tests, which are not being reported to the state).
But with the sharp downward movement and the lesser impact of high case counts given the relative mildness of the omicron strain, the new numbers are encouraging.
Here are some of the weekly numbers for the previous three weeks throughout the South Florida tri-county area:
— Dec. 31-Jan. 6: 110,806 newly confirmed cases, 31.3% positivity rate, 13,284 vaccine doses administered, 93% of 5-and-up population now vaccinated
— Jan. 7-13: 93,877 newly confirmed cases, 25.3% positivity rate, 15,577 vaccine doses administered, 94% of 5-and-up population now vaccinated
— Jan. 14-20: 47,414 newly confirmed cases, 20.2% positivity rate, 10,842 vaccine doses administered, 95% of 5-and-up population now vaccinated
— Dec. 31-Jan. 6: 50,315 newly confirmed cases, 33.5% positivity rate, 8,308 vaccine doses administered, 82% of 5-and-up population now vaccinated
— Jan. 7-13: 48,216 newly confirmed cases, 28.1% positivity rate, 9,331 vaccine doses administered, 82% of 5-and-up population now vaccinated
— Jan. 14-20: 23,153 newly confirmed cases, 21.3% positivity rate, 5,137 vaccine doses administered, 83% of 5-and-up population now vaccinated
— Dec. 31-Jan. 6: 27,941 newly confirmed cases, 36.2% positivity rate, 6,339 vaccine doses administered, 74% of 5-and-up population now vaccinated
— Jan. 7-13: 26,918 newly confirmed cases, 29.7% positivity rate, 5,878 vaccine doses administered, 75% of 5-and-up population now vaccinated
— Jan. 14-20: 15,059 newly confirmed cases, 24.8% positivity rate, 3,592 vaccine doses administered, 75% of 5-and-up population now vaccinated