Surfside Search Teams, Officials to Be Tested for COVID After Commissioner Tests Positive

Search teams and officials working to locate bodies after the collapse of a 12-story building in Surfside, Florida, are to be tested for COVID-19 after a vaccinated Miami-Dade county commissioner who helped with rescue efforts tested positive for the virus, the Associated Press reported.

Miami-Dade County Commission Chairman Jose "Pepe" Diaz announced Sunday in a news release that he and his chief of staff, Isidoro Lopez, who is also vaccinated, became infected with COVID-19. Diaz said he became ill with flu-like symptoms earlier in the day.

"Staff and others who have been in close contact with them will be getting tested between today and tomorrow," the statement from Diaz said.

— Chairman Jose “Pepe” Diaz (@CommishDiaz) July 12, 2021

Diaz and Lopez are isolating and sticking to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, according to the news release. Testing for COVID-19 will occur at the Surfside command center Monday, Miami-Dade spokesperson Rachel Johnson told the Miami Herald.

The death toll following the condominium's collapse rose to 90 on Sunday, with 31 still missing, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Surfside Rescue Teams
Some members of search teams and officials in Surfside, Florida, are to be tested for COVID-19 after a commissioner who helped rescue efforts came down with the virus. Above, search and rescue personnel walk back to work on the recovery operation at the collapsed 12-story Champlain Towers South condo building after a send-off for members of the Israel Defense Forces’ (IDF) National Rescue Unit on July 10, 2021. Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Diaz had participated in news conferences and meetings with other officials in Surfside, the Miami Herald reported.

"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 percent 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 COVID-19 cases and a higher positive test rate compared with other recent weeks.

Memorial for Surfside Condo Collapse Victims
Signs and flowers hang on the memorial site of the collapsed 12-story Champlain Towers South condo building on July 10, 2021, in Surfside, Florida. With the death toll currently at 90, search and rescue personnel continue their recovery efforts. Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images