Native well being officers report rising COVID infections in all ages group inside Florida
Could pandemic fatigue trigger new cases?
Matthew McClellan reports
TAMPA, Fla. – – Hillsborough County officials voted Wednesday to extend the local state of emergency for another seven days after it was revealed that nearly 2 out of 3 COVID-19 cases in Florida are variant strains of the virus.
An expert from the University of South Florida told commissioners that local health officials are seeing increased infections in every age group. After a rapid decline in the rise in vacation rentals, new cases have emerged in the past four weeks.
The state recorded around 2,000 fewer cases per day four weeks ago, representing a 44% increase in new infections over the past four weeks.
According to Dr. Jason Salemi, Associate Professor at the USF College of Public Health, this is a similar development in Hillsborough County.
“Now we have about 517 new cases a day. Four weeks ago we had about 200 fewer daily cases, which is a 60% increase in new infections over the past four weeks,” he told commissioners on Wednesday.
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The latest data shows Hillsborough is one of only nine counties in Florida with a weekly positivity rate greater than ten percent.
And it’s not just infections that are increasing. Dr. Salemi pointed this out.
“We are actually seeing an increase in the disease that is so severe that hospitalization is required,” he said.
His office reports a countrywide increase of 22% in the past four weeks alone. That’s 8% more people who were currently hospitalized with COVID-19 a week ago.
“In Hillsborough County we’ve gone up about 54 people in the last four weeks,” said Dr. Salemi to commissioners. “The likely recent increase in cases, in my opinion, is a combination of relaxed overall social mitigation efforts. Lots of people are doing the right things, but there’s a massive amount of COVID fatigue.”
“I think things like spring break and more people wanted out of there, I think there is a common relaxation of mitigation efforts,” he added.
Despite the increase in people currently hospitalized with the coronavirus, officials say hospital systems are functioning normally with no capacity issues.
Salemi said there are two main priorities at this point. Number one is removing barriers to people’s ability to get vaccinated. Number two is to weigh down the mitigation efforts, “because if you combine a relaxed mitigation with the increased prevalence of these more communicable variants,” Salemi explained, “it’s likely that that’s why we just didn’t see an increase in cases over the course the time see in the last four weeks, but also increased hospital stays. “