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COVID numbers improving, but may be short-lived

Published: Sep. 14, 2021 at 3:45 PM CDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CAPITOL NEWS SERVICE) - Daily COVID cases and hospitalization numbers have steadily dropped over the past three weeks in Florida, but infectious disease experts say the reprieve could very well be short-lived.

Daily case averages are at their lowest point since late July and hospitalizations are lower than they’ve been since early August. That comes as great news to Governor Ron DeSantis.

“The fortunate news is we’re seeing the declines all across the state,” said Governor Ron DeSantis at a Tuesday press conference.

The Delta wave brought the highest daily case numbers and hospitalizations since the start of the pandemic. Infectious disease experts we spoke with told us while they knew Delta would be bad, they didn’t predict it would be as devastating as it has proven to be.

“Three out of our ten deaths that have been recorded in Florida have been since Delta,” said Dr. Christopher Uejio, a public health expert at Florida State University.

While recent numbers may be painting an optimistic picture, UF epidemiologist Dr. Cindy Prins pointed to last year’s winter spike as a reason Floridians shouldn’t let their guard down.

“I think we’re still going to see another peak associated with that Thanksgiving and also winter holiday travel. So it’s a worry. We’re much closer to that than we were last year and we may not get a really good break from this,” said Dr. Prins.

Last year’s winter spike was worse than that seen over the summer. Experts we spoke with said individual decisions will determine whether this year follows the same path.

“If everyone is trying to see their family members in the state over the holiday break, we should expect another increase again,” said Dr. Uejio.

CDC models project Florida’s current Delta wave will bottom out in October, roughly the same time period the state began experiencing its winter wave last year.

Both scientists we spoke with agreed COVID isn’t likely going away any time soon. They said ultimately vaccinations and natural immunity will hopefully reduce caseloads and improve health outcomes to a tolerable level.