You may be tired of hearing about the spread of COVID-19, but the virus is still here and it continues to infect thousands.
Hospitalizations are on the rise due to the increase of COVID-19 infections while deaths have remained constant.
In mid-October, Florida hospitals had less than 2,100 people admitted for COVID-19. There have been 235 cases in the last week that resulted in hospitalizations and 2,450 people are now in the hospital with a primary coronavirus diagnosis, according to the Agency for Health Care Administration. Of those, 520 are in Tampa Bay. Florida has 27 percent of its hospital beds and 26 percent of its intensive care unit beds available. In Tampa Bay, those numbers are even smaller with 24 percent of hospital beds and 20 percent of ICU beds open.
On Tuesday, the state added 4,637 COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of coronavirus infections in Florida up to 816,700, according to the Florida Department of Health. It’s the highest level Florida has seen since Aug. 20. For the third day in a row, Florida’s case average has increased and the state is now at a weekly average of 4,341 infections recorded per day. Tuesday’s data also showed there were 56 new COVID-19 related deaths, bringing the total up to 17,099 coronavirus deaths in Florida since the pandemic began. The average is around 55 per day.
In Tampa Bay, there were 667 coronavirus cases and 12 deaths added on Tuesday. Of those deaths, eight were in Polk County, three were in Pinellas County and one was in Citrus County. Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco and Hernando counties didn’t have any new deaths reported. Hillsborough still has the highest spread of COVID-19 in the area with 49,100 cases and 827 deaths. However, it is not ranked at the top with the highest average weekly positivity rate. Citrus, Pasco and Manatee have an average weekly positivity rate of 7 percent. Hillsborough and Polk are averaging 6 percent and Hernando and Pinellas are averaging around 5 percent.
With many health experts calling this the nation’s third wave of COVID-19, the fear has been that as the nation enters flu season, COVID-19 symptoms will be ignored or passed off as another illness. The initial symptoms are nearly identical, though they do tend to range from person to person. If you experience any symptoms, experts say you should call your doctor, explain your symptoms and self-quarantine until you know for sure what the cause of your illness is. There is also the chance people can become infected with COVID-19 and the flu at the same time. Doctors encouragepeople to wear their masks, social distance and get their flu shots.
Widespread testing will help continue to let both the public and researchers know where the spread is most prevalent. Continued public health measures like mask wearing, social distancing and limiting exposure to large groups will continue to keep infections down. However, there are many areas where those protocols are no longer in place.
A model from the University of Washington shows that while deaths are currently well below the peak the nation had in April, where there were 2,200 people dying per day, approximately 386,000 people may be dead by Feb. 1, 2021.
Hospitalizations have also jumped in nearly 40 states in the past two weeks and staff are bracing for the influx of COVID-19 patients as well as flu patients. With more frequent testing, it is difficult to make direct comparisons. The U.S. did, however, record more than 80,000 new cases on Oct. 23 and 24.
Visit floridahealthcovid19.gov to stay up-to-date on the local COVID-19 spread.