It may be a sign we made it past the predicted post-holiday surge but two other key indicators being watched by doctors are hospitalizations and deaths associated with the virus. Though they’re down, too, experts say the numbers are still not low enough to let our guards down.
Monday, the Florida Department of Health reported 3,787 new COVID-19 cases. It follows a steady decline from just two weeks ago on February 1, when we saw more than 10,000 new cases.
“The decline is real,” said Dr. Marissa Levine, USF Public Health Professor. “The exact numbers are probably not as helpful because what we’ve seen is a decrease in testing and so we may not be seeing all the cases that are out there.”
But what Dr. Levine says we are seeing is a drop in hospitalizations and deaths associated with COVID-19, key indicators of what’s really going on. State data also shows emergency room visits have been falling since the start of 2021.
“I would caution everybody that we’re still at pretty high levels of disease in the community and even hospitalization,” Levine said. “We still see a significant number of deaths from COVID.”
While addressing vaccine scams, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody said, “Florida is turning the corner with vaccinations outpacing infections. This is great news, but it would be a mistake to let your guard down now.”
So far, nearly 2.4 million Floridians have gotten their first dose of the vaccine. 1.1 million have gotten their second dose.
“In Florida, we have only vaccinated about 11%, maybe a little bit more of our population, so none of us think that alone is the key driver,” Levine said. “It may start to show greater and greater impact as the number of people vaccinated goes up. It will be a factor. It just won’t be a large factor immediately.”
With Florida leading the nation with 379 COVID-19 cases linked to the UK variant, the next few weeks will be critical in seeing if this decline continues, especially, following large Super Bowl celebrations.
“Unfortunately, we’re still seeing pretty high numbers,” Levine said. “These numbers look good now but they wouldn’t look good if we were talking about the end of the spring, early summer before that second big wave.
Though there are a lot of factors at play here, Dr. Levine said we are in a decline and that’s good news. We can keep that going but that’ll require us to do our parts, individually and collectively.