TAMPA, Fla. - Things may be feeling more normal in the community, but the COVID-19 pandemic is far from over, especially in the Sunshine State. Florida leads the nation for new daily cases of COVID-19 and Bay Area hospitals say the patients landing in their beds tend to be younger and unvaccinated.
"We are still averaging around 1,500 cases a day, and that's pretty much flattened out over the last week or so, which is the highest level in the country right now," said University of South Florida College of Public Health Distinguished Professor Dr. Thomas Unnasch. "People who haven't been vaccinated are the ones that are getting still getting sick and getting hospitalized, and in many cases, dying from the infection."
The trend comes as concerns grow about the Delta variant.
Medical experts say it is expected to become the dominant strain in the U.S. over the next few weeks.
"It's at a level of contagiousness now that's pretty similar to smallpox or whooping cough, which are really pretty infectious diseases that are out," said Unnasch.
Since it is more infectious, officials worry the Delta variant could cause a major surge in new COVID-19 cases, spreading quickly through the people who have not had the shot.
As of Thursday, just 44% of Floridians are fully vaccinated. Florida is one of 34 states that has yet to vaccinate at least half its population.
"I think the really important thing is to encourage people who haven’t been vaccinated to get vaccinated as quickly as possible, because this thing is pretty scary," Unnasch said.