TAMPA, Fla. - Florida Governor Ron DeSantis implemented the first phase of his plan to reopen the state back on May 4. Since then, he urged young people not to ignore the guidelines.
"It is very reasonable to follow those guidelines," he said June 20. "It will make a difference in terms of being able to minimize transmission."
Since then, people age 15 to 34 went from making up 23% of COVID-19 cases to 37%. By June 23, the statewide median age had dropped to 33. In Hillsborough, it was 30.
But apparently what happens at bars doesn't stay at them.
"They brought it home," said Dr. Jay Wolfson, the University of South Florida's dean of health policy. "They brought it home to their parents and grandparents."
The statewide median age - meaning half are younger, half are older - has steadily increased, from 33 three weeks ago to 41 today.
Because senior citizens account for 14% of cases but 83% of deaths, a rising median age should be watched.
"There's a pipeline of stuff coming out at us that are going to be positive tests, hospitalizations, and even with the treatments we are using, probably more deaths," said Wolfson.
State data shows, in Hillsborough County 345 of 394 ICU beds are taken, or 90%; 91% are taken in Pinellas County, 92% in Polk County, and 95% in Pasco County.
Many hospitals have expanded ICU bed space, but expanding staff is more difficult.
"Some greater percentage of the people testing positive are now going to the hospital," said Wolfson. "Maybe just for a week, but if they're really sick, maybe six weeks. And then going to the ICU. So we are at that tipping point right now."
The governor has been quick to point out the death rate in Florida has been lower than it has in other states, at about 1.5%. That has dropped from 4% when Florida first reopened.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Email responses will be sent during call center hours.
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