By Lauren Pastrana

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – At their peak, COVID positivity rates in South Florida were in the double digits.

Now, they’re trending downward. One local expert says she’s optimistic, but don’t throw caution to the wind just yet.

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“Zero is what you really want,” said FIU infectious disease expert Dr. Aileen Marty. “But if it’s down to like 1 percent, I’m feeling pretty good.”

As of Monday in Miami-Dade, the seven-day average CVODI positivity rate was at 5.65%.

State numbers released last Friday showed it’s down to 5.5% in Broward and 7.4% in Monroe.

“Things are definitely heading in the correct direction. But we have to remember that this thing has had these every two month waves and we have to be very careful not to set things off back in the wrong direction,” Dr. Marty told CBS4’s Lauren Pastrana.

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Hospitalizations are down and vaccination rates are up.

Dr. Marty thinks people have gotten the message that the virus can have unpredictable new variants, like the Delta variant that wreaked havoc this past summer.

“Right now it looks like the Delta variant is coming somewhat under control in this country, but I say it with caution because one of the things we’ve been noticing is that we’ve been a few weeks behind Europe and in particular the UK, and the UK is having another upswing right now,” Dr. Marty warned.

With the development of new treatments, including a pill which drug maker Merck says can reduce the risk of death and hospitalization, Dr. Marty says we still need to stay on guard to minimize the spread in the first place.

“I think we need to keep going with the same type of actions that are happening now of people being cautiously optimistic,” she said. “I think we might be getting out of this.”

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Now that we’re getting closer to the holiday season, Dr. Marty says it’s getting safer to celebrate, but encourages outdoor festivities with smaller groups as much as possible.

Lauren Pastrana