TAMPA, Fla. - Friday marks the second straight day of a record increase in COVID-19 cases in Florida. The Florida Department of Health reported at least 1,900 new cases, continuing a 10-day spike.
“It doesn’t surprise us in the medical community that we’re seeing this uptick,” said Dr. Paul Nanda, the chief medical officer at Tampa General Hospital Urgent Care powered by FastTrack.
The volume of testing and reliability of kits are factors in the uptick, according to Dr. Jay Wolfson at the University of South Florida’s College of Public Health.
However, community spread after reopening the state combined with outbreaks in jails and nursing homes is pushing the numbers higher.
“Some portion of it is the jails. Some portion of it is the increased exposure from people being outside during phase and introducing to phase two where people were going out into places and being exposed and exposing themselves,” said Wolfson.
Farmworkers and younger adults are also among the new cases.
Rapid testing is now available, but Dr. Nanda said using a one size fits all approach to testing is not wise.
“Frequently people come in and patients have exposure to somebody they were told was positive today or they were around them today. Well, that rapid point of care test is not going to be helpful test for them on day-one,” said Nanda, adding that the virus has to have time to replicate. “It really takes some nuisance, some understanding, some discussion with the patient about their risks, their possible exposure and then determine what type of test is right for them.”
While cases continue to rise, governor Ron DeSantis claims hospitalizations in some of the hardest-hit parts of South Florida are going down.
“Miami-Dade COVID hospitalizations are down 14%. In Duval County, where they’re going to have the RNC, Memorial Day weekend to the present, COVID hospitalizations are down 50%,” DeSantis said Friday.
In the Tampa Bay area, 23% of adult ICU beds are available. For Hillsborough and Pinellas counties combined, it’s roughly 18%, according to state recorded data.
“We've been seeing an increase in hospitals for the kinds of things we were normally use them for. So an 18% rate of availability means we're filling those beds with other than COVID patients,” said Wolfson.
Since the virus is still spreading, public health leaders said to keep following safety guidelines.
“Now as people start to loosen up, now it’s probably more important to become vigilant about those things,” said Nanda.
Even though the new cases are on the rise right now, doctors said you won’t see an immediately see an increase in hospitalizations. But that’s something public health officials are keeping an eye on in the coming weeks.
If you feel sick:
The Florida Department of Health has opened a COVID-19 Call Center at 1-866-779-6121. Agents will answer questions around the clock. Questions may also be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Email responses will be sent during call center hours.
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