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Wastewater Samples Show Increase In South Florida COVID-19 Cases

MIAMI (CBSMiami) - Miami-Dade County is closely monitoring a recent uptick in COVID-19 cases.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in the past 7 days, the county has reported more than 6,000 cases.

In Broward, there were 2,700 cases with a positivity rate of 10.6%. The number of cases is likely an undercount due to positive results from at-home COVID testing.

"The behavior of the pandemic is mimicked in our COVID sampling in our wastewater stream, during the peak of Omicron we saw over 10 million virus copies in our wastewater sample," Jose Cueto, Miami Sewer and Water Dept. Deputy Dir. of Operations said.

The county has been testing samples for COVID-19 since March 2020.

"We're about 15 times higher from the low still 5 and 10 percent of the peak back in January during Omicron," Cueto explained.

Based on the data, the COVID concentration from wastewater is between 4 and 7 days ahead of seeing rising cases in the community. "So it is an early indicator and gives us a little bit of a heads up as to what may be happening in the near future," Cueto added.

Dr. Sarah LaRosa an ER physician and ER medical director for HCA Florida University Hospital elaborated on why this indicator matters. "A lot of people don't seem to think much about it if it's not affecting them in the immediate but you still have to be cautious, we're seeing increased cases which means it's going to start spreading around us."

Likely, in a week there will be a noticeable upward trend.

"We are seeing an uptick that is no question," Dr. Aileen Marty, Infectious Disease Expert at Florida International University. She helps to track Miami-Dade County data.

"We're doing everything we can in our power to not let the fact that more people are getting infected lead to a public health emergency at our hospitals," she said.

Once again, a reminder to keep up vaccinations and to reduce exposure as much as possible.

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