TAMPA, Fla. - On Wednesday, for the first time since the pandemic began, the United States reported more than 100,000 new coronavirus cases in a single day. We've seen the case trend going up here in Florida as well.
According to data from the Florida Department of Health, the Sunshine State's percent positivity gradually rose from 3.91% on October 4 to 7.75% in November 4's report.
In October, daily case totals were in the 1,000 - 2,000 range. The state reported 4,400 new cases Wednesday.
What's driving it?
In the fall, there have been Stanley Cup celebrations, more students have gone back to school, and possibly general fatigue with COVID-19 precautions come into play.
Experts say a spike was bound to happen.
The good news, according to Dr. Charles Lockwood, the dean of the University of South Florida Health Morsani College of Medicine, is that Hillsborough County's COVID-19 patients are younger, don't seem nearly as sick, and there've been fewer intubations needed. While the increase doesn't call for any additional restrictions, he said it's crucial that we keep up our efforts to control the spread.
"I don't think this is anywhere near the magnitude of what we experienced in the peak of the summer," Lockwood assured.
Similar to the state data, percent positivity and new cases are slightly trending up in Hillsborough County. Dr. Lockwood said there has been an increase in admissions on a rolling average over the last seven days, the admissions going from 8 to 23. He noted that is far from the 30 daily admissions we saw in the summer's peak.
"The good news there is we are not seeing huge spikes in Hillsborough County. We are seeing a little increase," Lockwood said. "The patients we are seeing in the hospital seem less sick and that again, fits with the younger age group."
Just like football, he says we're in the fourth quarter of the pandemic.
"We are almost there," Lockwood said. "For the love of God, keep using your face masks, keep washing your hands, keep socially distancing."
And with the holidays around the corner, experts urge common sense - small groups, open settings, masks, and any high-risk or elderly relatives should probably not attend.
"I'm very optimistic that the vaccine is going to work and I'm very optimistic that we are going to have it relatively soon so don't drop your guard," Lockwood said.
Lockwood said we will likely start vaccinating mid-to-late December. Those with the highest risks and healthcare workers would go first. He said, hopefully, by March or April, most will be vaccinated and won't have to worry about things like masks and social distancing.