TAMPA, Fla. - An unnerving trend appears to be revealing itself when it comes to new coronavirus cases in Florida -- the numbers are going up. Since Tuesday, the state has seen at least six days in a row with more than 1,000 new cases each. Florida had been averaging just 700 a day.
“I think it’s related to the fact that we've reopened and people are mobile,” said Dr. Marissa Levine, a public health expert at USF.
And that mobility became even greater on Friday as Florida moved into phase two, which allows bars and movie theaters to reopen.
Could that step lead to even more new cases? We should have an idea by the end of this week.
“This is our wake-up call. We have to act now and the numbers are telling us we need to do more,” said Dr. Levine.
Florida resident cases in orange; Florida resident deaths in gray. Source: Fla. Dept. of Health.
To be fair, case numbers don’t tell the whole story. The overall positivity rate is between 3% to 6% statewide in the past two weeks. Daily death numbers appear to be trending downward, though delays in reporting can make that statistic harder to interpret.
And, of course, additional testing can also lead to higher case numbers.
“It stands to reason the more you test, the more you find,” said Jon-Paul Lavandeira, a supervisor with Hillsborough County’s testing sites.
Source: Fla. Dept. of Health
Hillsborough County has tested more than 25,000 people and will add to that number at its newest testing site in Brandon. Unlike the four previous locations, this one will operate in the evening hours: from 5:30 until 8:30 on Mondays and Wednesdays and from 9 a.m. until noon on Saturdays.
The tests are free with an appointment.
“If you’re not sure if you were exposed to somebody, if you're not sure what you’re feeling constitutes a symptom or not, whatever the case, maybe we want to give everyone full and ample opportunity to get tested,” Lavandeira said.
Two more sites are planned, one in Sun City the other in Wimauma. Details are still being ironed out.