The COVID picture is shifting in Florida as test positivity in all three South Florida counties climbed back above 10% for the first time since the ommicron wave.
Just three weeks ago, the positivity rate in Miami-Dade and Broward counties hovered around 3%.
Miami-Dade, with a 12.6% positivity rate, now has a Community transmission level that is considered moderate rather than low, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. All other counties remain at a low community transmission level — which is calculated from hospital admissions, case numbers, and positivity rates.
As of Friday, Broward’s positivity rate is 11.2% and Palm Beach’s is 11.4%.
A sub-variant of ommicron that is more transmissible than BA.2 is gaining ground in the United States and is likely to lead to new COVID cases in Florida as well.
New cases of COVID-19 have nearly doubled in the Sunshine State in recent weeks. The seven-day average for new cases rose to 3,796 on April 28 from 1,649 on April 1, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The number of cases is likely to be higher as more Floridians learn their COVID status through home testing.
Federal health officials say the newest variant of ommicron, BA.2.12.1, circulating in the US is 23% to 27% more transmissible than BA.2, which itself was more transmissible than the original ommicron variant.
The BA.2.12.1 strain now accounts for about 1 in 5 new cases nationwide. Fortunately, there is no evidence yet to suggest that it causes a more serious illness.
However, the number of COVID hospitalizations in Florida, which had leveled off, is rising again.
In Florida, hospital admissions rose slightly in the past two weeks with 1,169 COVID patients admitted as of Friday, up from 1,117 a week ago, according to the US Health and Human Services dashboard.
COVID continues to prove deadly for some Floridians. Florida reported an additional 118 COVID deaths in the past week.
The number of COVID deaths in Florida has now reached 73,948.