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Long Lines At Testing Sites As Omicron Cases Increase

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – COVID cases continue to spike statewide as more than 8,000 cases have been reported for two straight days. And as cases increase so does the wait at testing sites.

"It's awful," said Rosealy Bermudez.

She was among the thousands who waited for hours at Tropical Park for a COVID test.

"We've been here for about 40 minutes already and look at the line we still have a long way to go," added Bermudez.

The lines at testing site across South Florida have exploded as the omicron variant cases continue to increase.

Cardiologist Dr. Bernard Ashby says the variant is being transmitted a lot quicker than pervious strains of the virus.

"We've never seen anything like this in terms of a virus being able to spread this fast and have this amount of pathogenicity," said Ashby.

According to the latest number from the Florida Department of Health almost 30,000 new COVID cases were reported statewide since last Friday, and Ashby says even those who are vaccinated are getting infected.

"If you're previously immune through the vaccine or previous infection, you're still protected but not as protected as you would have been to previous variants," said Ashby, who adds there is a positive as symptoms of the omicron variant tend to be milder when compared to previous strains of the virus.

"What we're seeing with this particular variant is that it doesn't affect the lungs. It stays in the upper airways, and folks tend to have milder symptoms as opposed to previous variants but again you have to take this with a grain of salt because there's no absolutes here and the data thus far is very preliminary," said Ashby.

But those who waited in the long lines Tropical Park say they aren't taking any chances.

"I'm just trying to be cautious just in case, because I know a few people who are already positive," said one woman being tested.

"We're going on a trip to see family for a holidays, so we have to get a negative test before actually doing so," added Emilia Vial.

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