By Peter D'Oench

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said the county has seen an ‘alarming’ increase in COVID- 19 cases and there’s been a 200 percent increase in demand for testing.

Tropical Park was packed with people waiting in line to get tested. One man told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench “We are visiting this area and visiting my friends and we wanted to get tested.”

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Another man who drove up to the site had more immediate reasons to get tested.

“We might have met someone at a party who had COVID and so we wanted to get tested right away to not take chances,” he said.

On Wednesday, Levine Cava said they will be adding additional testing sites and expanding hours.

“We’re gearing up as quickly as we can. The demand has just accelerated within the last week,” she said.

The mayor added that once again, masks are required in county buildings.

“We have seen this Omicron variant rapidly spreading like wildfire,” she said. “We have come so far as a community and it makes common sense to follow measures to prevent the spread of the disease and we will come through this latest surge as we enter the New Year. We know that getting vaccinated and boosted is the most important thing that any of us can do to protect ourselves and our loved ones. Vaccines work.”

She also revealed that the county also just received several thousand at-home test kits and they are figuring out now the best way to distribute them.

Levine Cava said they have a limited supply of Regeneron monoclonal antibody treatment. She said the limited supply should get through Sunday and they are prioritizing people who have tested positive with symptoms.

County-provided treatment is only available at Tropical Park by appointment. Before the shortage, the county was doing about 400 doses of Regeneron a day. Now, they’re down to about 80 a day.

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The mayor stressed that monoclonal treatment is not a replacement for the vaccine. She urged vaccinations, boosters, and masks in groups

Levine Cava has reached out to the state’s health department requesting more monoclonal antibody treatment doses.

In a letter to state Surgeon General Dr. Joseph A. Ladapo, the mayor said with the recent rise of the Omicron variant, now the dominant COVID-19 strain in the county, they are doing everything they can to combat the latest surge and protect lives and livelihoods.

“We have come too far, and have made too much progress, to let our guard down now, and we are using every tool in our toolkit to keep residents and visitors safe, particularly during the holiday season. We are continuing to make vaccination and the booster shots widely available; offering testing at nearly 30 locations countywide; requiring hospitals to provide daily COVID reporting and sequencing and sampling wastewater for variants; and working to expand access to the latest treatment options,” wrote Levine Cava.

She said like other parts of the state, they are now facing an urgent shortage of monoclonal antibody treatment.

“We understand the state Department of Health is about to receive an additional shipment of monoclonal antibody supplies, and given Miami-Dade is the epicenter of the spread of Omicron with some of the highest positivity in the state, we urge you to direct all possible resources to our county to ensure we can provide this lifesaving treatment to our residents,” she wrote.

Levine Cava said they have also asked the federal government to allocate additional monoclonal antibody resources to Florida as swiftly as possible.

“Similarly, as President Biden has committed to make 500 million at-home tests available to Americans in January, we ask that all possible tests be directed to Miami-Dade County once they are available as we do everything we can to meet the growing demand for testing in our community,” she wrote.

Levine Cava said at every step of this pandemic, the county has worked to lead the way in COVID preparation and protection to keep their millions of residents and visitors safe.

“We successfully beat back the Delta variant, and by taking all possible mitigation measures now to protect our community – vaccination, testing, masking around large crowds, and treatment – I know we can fight the spread this holiday season in Miami-Dade and across the state,” she wrote.

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Some hospitals and doctor’s offices in the county still have Regeneron which they will administer to eligible patients.

Peter D'Oench