From holiday parties to 'COVID deniers,' risk of catching coronavirus grows, Florida doctors say

Despite a nationwide rise in COVID-19 case numbers, medical professionals say they're seeing the results of more people letting down their guards.

Even though it was ill-advised to attend big family Thanksgiving gatherings, many people did.

“When you think about extended family together, then going back to their respective locations, now you’ve got a lot of people exposed to the virus who need testing,” explained Dr. Jason Wilson, medical director of the Critical Decision Unit at Tampa General Hospital. “What we’ll see next is people needing hospitalization.”

As coronavirus cases increase, so does the possibility of coming into contact with an infected person, especially if you attend a large party or gathering. With the holiday season in full swing, doctors hope people decide to keep things small this year.

COVID diaries: Treating patients on the pediatric front lines

Healthcare workers who are on the front line of the battle against COVID-19 are one of the groups at the highest risk.

So far, more than 170,000 have contracted the disease and more than 740 have died.

Those who let down their guards during the holidays are not the only ones putting themselves and others at risk. Experts say there is still a population who are so-called COVID deniers, refusing to accept medically proven facts about the virus and how to prevent it.

“The whole denial issue is just silly,” commented Dr. Hal Escowitz, the chief quality officer at Lakeland Regional Health.

He says the virus, “is overwhelming our health system throughout the country. I don’t know how anyone could intelligently argue that this is no big deal, or this doesn’t exist, or this is some kind of conspiracy.”

Wilson agrees.

“The ability to deny this reality is getting harder and harder as we approach 300,000 people who died from this virus throughout the country.”

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 Email responses will be sent during call center hours.

LINK: Florida's COVID-19 website

CORONAVIRUS IN FLORIDA: What you need to know


Map of known COVID-19 cases:

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