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Leading official at Florida condo site tests positive for coronavirus despite vaccination

Miami-Dade County Commission Chairman Jose “Pepe” Diaz
Miami-Dade County Commission Chairman Jose “Pepe” Diaz speaks about the ongoing rescue efforts at the collapsed Champlain Towers South in Surfside, Fla.
(Associated Press)

A vaccinated Miami-Dade County commissioner who helped other local officials in nearby Surfside following the collapse of a condo tower says that he and his chief of staff tested positive for the coronavirus.

A statement late Sunday from Miami-Dade County Commission Chairman Jose “Pepe” Diaz said he and his chief of staff, Isidoro Lopez, who had also received a COVID-19 shot, came down with flu-like symptoms earlier in the day and later tested positive for the coronavirus.

“Staff and others who have been in close contact with them will be getting tested between today and tomorrow,” the statement said. It added that Diaz and Lopez would be self-isolating and following guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Diaz had participated in news conferences and meetings with other officials in Surfside, the Miami Herald reported. Miami-Dade spokesperson Rachel Johnson told the newspaper that coronavirus tests would be administered at the Surfside command center Monday.

Owners of units in the collapsed Florida condo tower were days away from starting to pay for more than $9 million in repairs recommended in 2018.

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The search for bodies continues at the site of the wrecked Champlain Towers South in Surfside, where Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava earlier Sunday confirmed the death toll had reached 90 in last month’s collapse. Some 31 people remain listed as missing.

“Breakthrough” infections — fully vaccinated individuals who contract the coronavirus — do happen, although they are very rare. An Associated Press analysis of government data in May showed only about 1% of such cases resulted in hospitalization or death. The analysis suggested that nearly all COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. recently have been in people who weren’t vaccinated, a staggering demonstration of how effective the shots have been and an indication that deaths could approach zero if every eligible person gets the vaccine.

Last week, Florida health officials reported an increase in coronavirus cases and a higher positive test rate compared with other recent weeks.


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