Florida COVID-19 hospitalizations up 40%; CDC urges use of face coverings

The number of people being admitted into the hospital because COVID-19 is on the rise across Florida, going up about 40% in the last month and health leaders say now is the time to act before things get out of control.

Medical experts have been cautioning for months, the combination of school back in session, the state fully opening and major holidays could jumpstart another wave of coronavirus community spread.

“We’re seeing what has been anticipated, though this is just the beginning because we have every reason to believe that by the second week of January we’re gonna be seeing about 15,000 cases a day in the Tampa Bay area,” said Dr. Jay Wolfson, Distinguished Service Professor at USF Health.

That would be a massive surge from the 5,534 new cases reported statewide Thursday.

Experts say after the positivity increases, and then comes the hospitalizations, followed by folks being admitted to the ICU.

LINK: CDC Mask Research

“In places like Minnesota and Montana, South Dakota, the hospitals are already being overwhelmed and they’re having to discontinue elective procedures, and some of them are having to turn away patients,” Wolfson said.

Numbers from the Agency on Healthcare Administration show 3,065 people are in the hospital Thursday night with COVID-19 across the state. That is about a 44% increase from a month ago when there were just 2,127.

“And the best we can do right now is everything we can to push that curve down,” said Wolfson.  “The only way to do this is by using the only tool we have against this disease and that’s wearing face masks, exercising social distancing, washing our hands, and using common sense.”

The CDC released updated mask research that shows wearing a face covering protects others from being infected by the wearer -- but also protects the wearer from being infected. 

The CDC said, “Adopting universal masking policies can help avert future lockdowns…”

It is something Wolfson hopes everyone thinks about as we enter the holiday season.

“This is a time to be extra cautious, we cannot afford, we cannot afford to take a risk of making those numbers go up higher because we cannot close this state down again, that would be disastrous,” he said.  “And if we do, it’s gonna be each of our fault for not doing what it takes.”