South Florida turns out to be at high risk for COVID transmission. A data error has occurred.


South Florida is actually at a high level of COVID community transmission, and has been since at least Thursday. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data error misrepresented the current risk and has yet to be fully resolved.

The state’s three largest counties moving to a high risk level means residents may need to alter their daily routines and activities as stricter recommendations are offered by the CDC to avoid contracting and spreading the virus.

The agency’s COVID-19 community transmission level county map shows that 14 of Florida’s 67 counties are at medium risk, with no counties at high, which includes South Florida.

But this is not the case.

The CDC added a footnote to this map on Thursday explaining that Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties are expected to appear under a high level of risk due to a data processing error. The error left Florida county-level case rates at zero.

Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties are now at high risk for community transmission of COVID after a CDC data error misrepresented their virus levels.

There are three CDC risk levels: low, medium, and high. Each comes with its own CDC recommendations on what a person should do to stay safe.

The difference between a low and medium risk level is small when it comes to these recommendations. Masks are no longer required to be warned and vaccines are advised.

When a county reaches a high risk level, a substantial shift occurs — the CDC recommends everyone, regardless of vaccination status, wear a mask indoors. This is a major change for many Florida residents who had returned to “pre-COVID life” as the omicron wave subsided in January.

This change in risk levels was not abrupt for the three counties. On May 17, Miami-Dade and Broward were already at medium risk while the rest of the state was at rock bottom.

Since April, cases tended to increase, according to calculations by the Miami Herald using data published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A rise in the number of hospitalized COVID patients wasn’t far behind, as in late April Florida hospitals were seeing spikes, which have been rising ever since. COVID patients in intensive care, however, only recently started to increase in mid-May.

These increases have yet to come close to what the state saw during the omicron and delta waves earlier this year and last year.