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As COVID Testing Surge Continues Across South Florida, Anticipation Builds For Vaccine Arrival

FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) - There's no letup in the surge of COVID testing in South Florida.

On Thursday, 2,000 tests were done in one hour at Hard Rock Stadium.

At Holiday Park in Fort Lauderdale, there was up to a three-hour wait at times.

"We are seeing somewhere between 1,600 and 2,000 tests a day here," said City Manager Chris Lagerbloom.

Despite the infection rate slowly rising, Lagerbloom says he doesn't anticipate a lockdown happening anytime soon in the city.

Although masks are still required, there is no fine to levy if someone fails to comply per an order from the governor.

Lagerbloom says the state has asked if Holiday Park can be used as a mass distribution site for the COVID vaccine When it becomes widely available next spring.

"This was part of a hurricane plan for food and water distribution, so it will work well for vaccine distribution," he says.

Down at Miami International Airport, they are getting ready for the first doses of the Pfizer vaccine to arrive. FDA approval for emergency use is expected next week and afterward the vaccine is expected to land as soon as 24 hours later.

MIA aviation department spokesman Jimmy Nares says the airport is well-positioned to become a hub for vaccine distribution in South Florida, the Caribbean, and Latin America.

"Miami is the main airport for 62 percent of all perishable imports. We have more refrigerated cooler space than any other airport," he says.

DHL is part of the group that will be flying and helping to store the vaccine.

The Pfizer vaccine has to be stored in minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit temperatures and DHL has refrigerated cargo containers located near the airport, where the vaccine will be stored after their planes land.

"We created a warehouse within a warehouse concept with dedicated doors which open only to the life sciences business so that a truck can back up and we can offload the material into that temperature-controlled environment so it's never exposed to external conditions," DHL spokesman Larry St. Onge explained.

The vaccine can be kept up to five days in a refrigerator. Out of the fridge, it has to be used within six hours.

Once the vaccine is greenlighted for emergency use, it will be sent to Jackson Health System in Miami-Dade and Memorial Healthcare System in Broward.

These are two of the five designated Florida hospitals that will get the vaccine first to distribute it to frontline health care workers at higher risk.

South Florida Walgreens pharmacies and CVS stores are also getting ready to receive shipments of the COVID vaccine for use at long-term care facilities, where the residents are most at risk.

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