MIAMI (CBSMiami) – COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are up across South Florida, leading Jackson Health System to upgrade its COVID threat level to ‘high’ at most of its facilities.

Jackson Health System says it has gone from treating 66 COVID-positive patients two weeks ago to 139 today, an increase of 111-percent.

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Of the 139 COVID-19 patients currently being treated at Jackson, 95% are unvaccinated.

For the safety of patients, visitors and staff, Jackson will no longer allow visitation for most inpatient units, excluding rehabilitation, pediatrics/NICU, maternity, non-COVID end-of-life cases, and other administrative exceptions. Additionally, visitors are not allowed in all adult emergency departments starting Wednesday, July 21.

While Jackson is no longer providing vaccines at its facilities, Jackson encourages everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated as soon as possible. Vaccination is widely available across South Florida, including at local pharmacies. Anyone age 12 and older is eligible for a vaccine.

Baptist Health South Florida said Monday it is caring for 303 COVID-19 positive patients across their hospitals.

“The vast majority of these patients who are currently hospitalized for the disease are unvaccinated patients,” according to a released statement. Baptist Health will continue to require mask wearing inside their facilities and there is currently no change in their visitor guidelines or policies.

COVID cases are rising across the nation as the more transmissible Delta variant spreads and ends months of steady decline that began when widespread vaccinations became available.

The surge is particularly bad in Florida with Miami-Dade recording cases about five times the national rate.

The number of reported cases in Florida nearly doubled last week, from 23,000 to more than 45,000, according to the Florida Department of Health. There were also another 59 reported deaths, and a state new case positivity rate stands at 11.5%.

Despite Miami-Dade County’s 75% vaccination rate, there were 7,052 newly reported cases last week and the county has a 7.4% new case positivity rate.

In Broward, the vaccination rate is 67%, but added 3,850 new cases last week and has a new case positivity rate of 8.1%

Monroe County, with a 69% vaccination rate, added 94 new cases last week and has an 8.1% positivity rate.

The state does not provide daily numbers anymore. Weekly numbers are reported every Friday.

In Broward County, the COVID hospitalization rate is also climbing.

Dr. Joshua Lenchus says Broward Health’s Hospitalization jumped from 71 last week to 95 on Monday.

“It is concerning.  It is partly because of the holiday, but we are still dealing with misinformation about the vaccine,” he said.

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While vaccinations are slowing in South Florida, the number of people getting tested for the virus is skyrocketing.

At Mills Pond Park in Ft. Lauderdale, there was a long line of cars on Monday with people waiting to be tested.

Stefanie Rescinti and her four-year olddaughter were waiting to be tested.

“My daughter’s school had two positive cases, so we came over,” she explained.

Jessica Williams found out she is COVID positive.

“I think it’s crazy.  I have seven friends who were vaccinated and are sick,” she said.

Williams is not vaccinated even though she spent a month in the hospital last year being treated for COVID.

“I’ve talked to doctors and the holistic community and there is too much misinformation,” she said.

Dr. Lenchus hopes more people will be vaccinated.

“I hope this is a wakeup call and people can avoid getting so sick they require hospitalization,” he said.

This comes as students are heading back to classrooms in just a few weeks.

“It is true that kids are less likely to get seriously sick compared to adults when it comes to COVID-19, but they can still contract the virus and spread it to others, even if they don’t show symptoms,” explained s Dr. Hanadys Ale, a Pediatric Immunologist with Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital. “The best way to stop the spread of this virus is to also protect our children against COVID-19.”

“We need to understand that there are rare cases of complications that require hospitalization, and require even intensive care treatments,” Dr. Ale continued. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics just released new guidelines that recommend in-person learning, and urges all who can to be vaccinated. In addition, the guidelines encourage all staff, teachers, and students to continue wearing masks, since a significant portion of the elementary student population is not yet eligible for vaccines. 

Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto Carvalho has said masks will be optional. 

“We here in Miami-Dade are in a better position than the rest of the state of Florida or the country. Why? 70% of the residents of Miami-Dade have been vaccinated,” Carvalho said. 

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Broward County Schools says they will be making a decision on masks next week. 

Karli Barnett