Medical experts anticipate increase in cases, deaths as restrictions loosen

As Florida starts taking steps to ease restrictions put in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, health experts say new cases and more deaths are expected. 

However, as long as local hospitals can handle the patients, the state says it is still in.

To get a good idea of how the COVID-19 virus is spreading, medical experts say the number of new cases each day or week is the metric to follow.

“It gives the doctors and scientists, the hospital executives, all a decent idea of, 'Are we going to start getting into trouble with being able to handle the number of people getting sick? Are we still OK? Do we still have enough beds? Do we still have enough ventilators?'” explained Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital infectious disease physician Dr. Juan Dumois. “That’s a very important reason to be monitoring these curves.”

RELATED: Florida coronavirus cases top 37,000 in Tuesday update; 72 new deaths reported

Keeping the hospitals from becoming overwhelmed was the main reason the 'safer at home' orders and other restrictions were put in place -- not to try to end the pandemic.

The virus is still here and right now hospitals say they have the space and equipment to manage the positive cases.

MORE: Florida makes plans for dealing with COVID-19 in a hurricane

“It looks like the number of new cases sort of has flattened out compared to what was expected if we had not done all these restrictions over the last couple of months,” Dumois said. “We probably would have had a much worse, a much bigger surge into the hospitals if we had not done what we had done.”

Monday marked the start of phase one of the governor’s plan to ease back on the rules. Experts say we most likely will see an increase in new infections and deaths across the state. 

READ: Which Florida beaches are open? Counties begin reopening beaches with restrictions

“There is a possibility that new restrictions may have to be imposed, if not statewide, in certain areas, that are having more trouble than other areas of the state,” said Dumois.

He says as more businesses get the green light to welcome back customers, people who are at higher risk for contracting COVID-19 should be careful when going out in public. Everyone should still be maintaining social distance and face-covering recommendations.

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


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