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South Florida Healthcare System Facing Challenges With Rising Omicron Cases

MIAMI (CBSMiami) - The Omicron variant, which is more contagious and spreads rapidly, is causing concern for the healthcare system and hospitals.

"As far as getting this and getting it over with, look the healthcare system cannot handle this," said Dr. Geeta Nayyar, an Internal Medicine Specialist in Miami.

She said with the COVID cases running rampant thanks to the Omicron variant, capacity at our hospitals continues to be challenged.

"Independent of COVID-19, if every one of us was to get pneumonia or the flu, all at the same time, the healthcare system is not equipped to handle this volume nor the amount of staff that's needed for it, nor the resources," said Nayyar.

There is some optimism because most people who are vaccinated aren't ending up in the hospital.

Nayyar called the in-demand and hard to find testing kits now being supplied by the federal government a big step forward.

"Really what this means is we are using more science and more tools to get back to life," she said.

The tests are good news for South Florida which continues to see high caseloads.

Miami-Dade county's COVID dashboard shows a positivity rate of 30%.

The latest numbers from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention give Broward a positivity rate of 29%.

Dr. Mary Jo Trepka, an infectious disease expert with Florida International University, said COVID rates in Miami-Dade are five times higher than they were with the Delta variant.

"So even though it seems when people are infected with Omicron they have about half the risk of being hospitalized because we have so many cases, hospitals are even more burdened than they were with the Delta variant that we saw over the summer," she said.

The COVID-19 Forecast Hub says models predict 50,000 to 300,000 more Americans could die by March.

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