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COVID-19 is spreading in Tallahassee, but most cases are not severe

A photo of Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare, a large greyish building with a blue geometric pattern on the front.
Erich Martin
Most of the people getting care from TMH who have tested positive for the coronvirus are not there because of COVID.

Leon County, along with most of the state of Florida, is listed by the CDC as high risk for COVID-19. But Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare Vice President and Chief Integration Officer, Doctor Dean Watson, says that’s not a complete picture.

Data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention includes people in the hospital who test positive for the coronavirus, but who might be asymptomatic or who are there for another reason.

When we look at it we say, hmmm, our level may not be as high as it is indicated in the CDC’s numbers, because we may not have as many infected people in the hospital so maybe we would fall more to the medium level," Watson says.

More than 80 percent of the patients at TMH who have tested positive for COVID are there for reasons not related to the coronavirus.

In general, while the current variants of the virus are spreading easily, the symptoms for most people are less severe. Watson says right now the current COVID variants are acting like a mild virus, much like the flu, but that could change.

“You know, as this virus mutates it just happens that it has mutated to the point where it is more of a nuisance than a threat. We hope that it continues to mutate to the point where it acts like a mild infectious virus. But you never know, these viruses mutate rapidly. The next one could be more aggressive. We monitor that on a daily basis." Watson says.

Watson says vulnerable people with preexisting conditions or compromised immune systems can still get very sick or even die from the current COVID variants. He encourages everyone to consider the impact they could have on those around them and says anyone who has been exposed to the virus or who has symptoms should stay home. If staying home is not possible, he says people who are sick should wear N95 or KN95 masks.

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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