Florida's surgeon general: With vaccine a year away, 'new normal' is here to stay

Florida's surgeon general is painting a vivid picture of life after COVID-19. He says we need to continue social distancing until we have a vaccine, but that could take more than a year.

State and federal leaders are already working on a plan to reopen the Sunshine State’s economy, perhaps in phases as the virus runs its course. But based on what the surgeon general said, when companies do re-open, many will have to make some adjustments. 

“As long as we’re going to have COVID in the environment, and this is a tough virus, we’re going to have to practice these measures so that we are all protected,” Florida Surgeon General Dr. Scott Rivkees stated.

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The models project the pandemic is peaking and will subside next month or early June. But at that point, the virus will still be in the environment. 

The nation’s infectious disease experts say we may also see a second wave, though not as severe, this fall or winter. That’s why Dr. Rivkees said we need to continue social distancing for much longer than people may have thought. 
“Until we get a vaccine, which is a while off, this is going to be our new normal and we need to adapt and protect ourselves,” Rivkees warned.

He said that means continuing to wear masks in public places and avoiding crowds. 

It’s why sports leagues like Major League Baseball are pondering a shortened season with no fans in the ballparks, and why large concerts and festivals may be put on hold. 

It’s why businesses will likely continue to restrict and limit non-essential travel and conduct more business by teleconference – again, until we have a vaccine.

"Based on what has been reported, probably a year if not longer, is what some individuals have talked about,” Rivkees added.

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After Dr. Rivkees spoke, the governor’s spokeswoman asked him to step out of the news conference and escorted him away. The national media are reporting the governor’s staff removed him based on his statements, but the governor’s spokeswoman said she just told him he was running late for another meeting and he stepped out to join it. 

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 covid-19@flhealth.gov. Email responses will be sent during call center hours.

LINK: Florida's COVID-19 website

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