By Joan Murray

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – With the number of COVID cases in South Florida continuing to rise, and hospitalizations increasing, county leaders are urging people to get the COVID vaccine.

Tuesday, Miami Dade mayor Daniella Levine Cava along with healthcare leaders and public safety officials issued a joint statement that reads in part, “We urge residents to wear masks around large crowds of people and particularly around those who are unvaccinated or have an unknown vaccination status.”

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The new Delta variant appears to be spreading rapidly in south Florida, infecting the unvaccinated and the vaccinated. However, health officials say people who are vaccinated aren’t likely to get seriously ill.

Jackson Health system said beginning Wednesday they will curtail visitations for patients to combat the spread.

The number of COVID patients jumped from 66 to 143 in two weeks across the Jackson health system.

Most of the COVID patients are ‘unvaccinated.’

There are similar increases at Broward’s healthcare systems as well.

On Tuesday Memorial Regional healthcare system reported that in a month’s time the
number of COVID patients nearly tripled going from 94 to 234. Again. most of those
hospitalized with COVID were never vaccinated.

“The day in and day out numbers are increasing which means we haven’t reached the
peak,” said Dr. Marc Napp who is chief medical officer.

Memorial started limiting patient visits last week and soon may go to mostly
no visitation if the numbers keep rising.

The increase in hospitalizations is affecting fire rescue operations in the city of Ft. Lauderdale.

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In the past two weeks, units have encountered critical capacity at different hospitals meaning there’s a bed delay.

That results in rescue units having to go to different hospitals when patients are
non-critical.

“The message we would like to give the public is to wash your hands, stay home
when you are sick, and wear a mask,” said Battalion Chief Steve Gollan.

And while the number of people getting vaccinated has dwindled, the demand
for COVID testing is skyrocketing.

There are long lines once more at health department run COVID testing sites
in South Florida.

Getting a rapid test isn’t as easy as getting one six months ago. There are
fewer locations and although most pharmacies offer the service, you usually
have to make an appointment.

On Tuesday CBS 4 spoke to Oscar Maya who was getting a rapid test at a pop-up COVID testing tent on Oakland Park Boulevard in Broward.

Maya said he was taking a trip to Colombia and needed to present a negative test.

Thankfully he tested negative at the pop-up location.

Maya said he is vaccinated and thinks he made the right decision.

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“I feel better having been vaccinated and I know that if I do get sick, it will
pass through my system quicker,” he said.