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Data Indicates Florida's Current COVID-19 Spike Could Start Trending Down, But Doctors Say That Requires More Vaccinations

A person wearing a brown shirt and dark mask receives a vaccine in their upper arm from a person wearing gloves, a mask, and a face shield.
Steven Cornfield
Doctors say getting Florida's current COVID-19 spike could end if enough people get vaccinated.
"We hope to see a trend down over the next four to five weeks if everyone will go out and get vaccinated and do the right thing."
Dr. Dean Watson

Florida doctors say models indicate an end to the current surge in coronavirus cases could be in sight. But experts caution that depends on more people getting vaccinated.

This week, Florida has been breaking coronavirus records. In the last few days, the state has hit the highest number of new confirmed cases its seen since the pandemic began, and officials are reporting record COVID-19 hospitalization rates. That’s the case at Tampa General Hospital.

“There’s no question, Governor, that our ERs are full, and we are busy, that we have the most COVID patients that we’ve had throughout the pandemic,” said TGH President and CEO John Couris.

Couris spoke as part of a coronavirus roundtable hosted by Gov. Ron DeSantis Wednesday. He and other hospital officials stressed while many hospitals are treating high numbers of patients, and some have even put elective procedures on hold, that doesn’t mean people who need emergency care should avoid going to the hospital.

COVID-19 Cases Are Straining Hospital Resources. Doctors Say They're Still Able To Treat Emergencies.

“If you’re having a heart attack, if you’re having an emergency, go to your emergency room. I probably speak for every institution. We’re open. We’re here. Do not wait… Do not delay care. The hospitals are ready and able to take care of an emergency,” Couris said.

Doctors say the state’s surge in coronavirus cases has put a strain on healthcare staff and resources, but at Orlando Health, CEO David Strong he said he’s starting to see things level out.

“We hope we’ve plateaued as far as the peak. We’ve hovered across our system in the 500 positive inpatients [range] for the last week or so,” Strong said.

Experts Are Looking At Coronavirus Data From The U.K. For Clues About What's Coming Next.

Strong said models indicate cases could start ticking down again shortly.

“If you look at the models in the U.K. and the Netherlands, this peak went up very rapid and then fell very quickly. So, we’re hoping that that same thing occurs here,” Strong said.

Dr. Dean Watson is Chief Integration Officer at Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare. He said experts look to U.K. numbers because they “mirror us somewhat then it comes to vaccination.” He agrees U.K. data indicates a dip in coronavirus cases could be expected in Florida within the next month or so.

“You know they’re trending down now. We hope to see a trend down over the next four to five weeks if everyone will go out and get vaccinated and do the right thing,” Watson said. “But we are going to continue to see an influx over the next two to three weeks before we see any trends. Our positivity rates continue to be high. We hope to see that trend down over the next few weeks as folks decide to take personal responsibility and get vaccinated.”

Experts say once local positivity rates begin decreasing hospitalization rates should follow suit about 14 days later. But Watson cautioned that decrease will only come if more people get vaccinated.

Doctors say while a small number of people who are vaccinated are still getting sick from the coronavirus, the vaccines are doing a good job of minimizing the severity of the virus and keeping most vaccinated people out of the hospital. Watson said the available vaccines are even doing a good job of protecting people against the Delta Variant.

“We all need to get together and have real conversations about this and talk about personal responsibility and look at the evidence behind these vaccines that are still 88% effective against the Delta variant. I’ll take that all day long! We really need to take this very seriously,” Watson said.

The vast majority of COVID-19 patients who require hospitalization are unvaccinated.

Follow @Regan_McCarthy

Regan McCarthy is the Assistant News Director for WFSU Public Media. Before coming to Tallahassee, Regan graduated with honors from Indiana University’s Ernie Pyle School of Journalism. She worked for several years for NPR member station WFIU in Bloomington, Ind., where she covered local and state government and produced feature and community stories.

Phone: (850) 645-6090 | rmccarthy@fsu.edu

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