Health experts said Hillsborough County is one of nine Florida counties with the highest infection rate. Public health scientists who track the virus said Florida’s daily cases went up 26% over the last month.
USF Health professor of epidemiology Jason Salemi says the increases are even higher in Hillsborough County, where cases have increased 37% in the past four weeks.
And the increase isn't due to increased testing.
"Even though we’re approaching pretty high levels of vaccination, there’s still almost 1 million seniors in the state who have yet to receive one dose of the vaccine," said Salemi. "So there’s still plenty of vulnerable individuals in our communities, and that virus is just devilishly good at finding those people and infecting them."
More infections also mean more people needing hospitalization. And in Hillsborough County, Salemi says the virus found its way into more children, too.
"The most prominent increases in the past two weeks, both statewide and even in Hillsborough County, has been in our pediatric population," he explained. "Even though they tend to be at the lowest absolute risk of severe illness or death, they can get very sick."
A spokesperson with AdventHealth Tampa said they have seen a slight increase in children coming in with COVID-19 infections.
Still, health experts say the vaccine has stemmed the surge among older people. The shot protects against severe illness and death, so public health experts said getting vaccinated is still the best way to reverse the trends.
"If we are able to continue to get seniors and everyone who is of vaccine-eligible age to come out and get vaccinated, I’m very confident that we’ll start to see those numbers go back down," said Salemi.