TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) – Miami-Dade County has launched a multi-week surveillance project to measure the rate of coronavirus exposure in the community and better direct resources to respond to the pandemic, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez said Friday.

“Our goal is to be able to get a snapshot of where the virus is going and how many people are reacting to it,” Gimenez said during a virtual press conference Friday.

Miami-Dade County, one of three communities that are conducting the surveillance, is “the largest by far that’s taken this endeavor on,” the mayor said.

The Florida Department of Health reported Wednesday that Miami-Dade County, with 3,029 cases of COVID-19, leads the state in the number of cases of the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus.

The University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and Disaster Management Group, the South Florida-based business that developed the rapid blood test for the coronavirus that will be used in the study, partnered with the county on the project.

The surveillance may allow the county to identify “clusters” of the virus, and could identify people who are infected but do not know it, Gimenez said.

“Having that information will allow us to get ahead of what’s happening on COVID-19 and can guide us as to how to best use our resources to stop the spread of this virus,” the mayor said.

Disaster Management Group is charging the county $17 per test for 20,000 tests, but the company agreed to kick in an additional 2,000 tests for free.

The surveillance will track 750 test subjects, who will meet weekly over the course of the surveillance. A separate surveillance of first responders also will be conducted.

“All of us are moving in the dark somewhat in terms of understanding the true burden of coronavirus infection in our community,” University of Miami School of Medicine researcher Erin Kobetz said.

The surveillance will allow the county to estimate the burden of the disease, including among individuals who are asymptomatic.

“It will also help us understand how some of the initiatives that were put in place are affecting our curve of infection,” she added.

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