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Weekly COVID-19 cases rising in Florida, Palm Beach County for the first time since January

Florida’s COVID-19 caseload is rising for the first time in months, as the so-called “stealth omicron” subvariant takes over.

The state logged 9,845 new cases between March 21 and Monday, higher than the week prior, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data show.

It’s the first time since mid-January that the seven-day sum was higher than the previous week’s.

Florida health officials documented 7,894 new infections during the week ended March 21, the lowest level since June 7, 2020.

The omicron subvariant BA.2, known as “stealth omicron,” comprises about 55% of coronavirus cases across the U.S., the CDC reported Sunday. In the South, it’s responsible for about 39% of infections. Medical experts have said BA.2 is more infectious than the main omicron strain and harder for regular polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests to identify.

As spring breakers and Snowbirds crowd Florida, some counties have experienced bigger caseload spikes than most of the state.

Palm Beach County cases per 100,000 people double in a week

Miami-Dade County’s infection rate sat at 116 cases for every 100,000 residents during the week ending Monday, more than double the 52 per 100,000 recorded the week prior.

Manatee County, home to Bradenton, went from 64 infections per 100,000 residents to 127 per 100,000.

Palm Beach County went from 36 to 82 cases per 100,000.

Viral concentrations have doubled in Miami-Dade County sewage from March 9 to 23, according to wastewater test results from Boston-based laboratory Biobot.

The lab has also detected increases in Hillsborough County, home to Tampa. Seminole County and neighboring Orange County (Orlando) experienced higher viral levels in their sewage during the middle of the month before leveling off.

COVID-19 cases rising again in Florida

Difference in infection rates between the week ended March 28 and the week ended March 14.

As BA.2 spreads across America, the White House has warned the federal government will run out of money budgeted to pay for vaccines, tests, masks and treatments.

Congress has not approved $22.5 billion the White House previously requested to pay for those items to prepare for another COVID-19 wave.

U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, a Palm Beach County Democrat, could not be reached Wednesday afternoon for comment on funding negotiations. She sits on the House Committee on Appropriations, which decides on federal spending.

Congressional Republicans opposed Democrats’ original proposal this month to pay for the White House’s request by having the federal government take on new debt. Democrats opposed Republicans’ plan to use COVID relief money from the federal government that states had yet to spend.

Meanwhile, vaccination and testing sites across Palm Beach County and Florida operated by companies depending on the federal aid have closed or will shut down in April.

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