TAMPA, Fla. — Researchers are now watching the next four weeks closely for COVID-19 outbreaks.
“People I’ve been talking to are really starting to get very, very nervous,” said Dr. Thomas Unnasch, Distinguished Professor for The University of South Florida College of Public Health.
Experts believe the COVID-19 delta variant is behind the recent increase in cases across the country, including in Florida.
“Right now we’re at a point where this number of cases in Florida is doubling about once every six-and-a-half days. Which is really, really pretty scary,” said Unnasch.
Health experts say the delta variant is about twice as infectious as any other COVID-19 strain they’ve seen so far.
“The infectiousness of this virus now is about at level that we see with smallpox or whooping cough,” said Unnasch.
“I really expect to see among unvaccinated people a large number of new infections that are going to occur over the next four to six weeks or so,” he added.
Data shows last week in Florida, cases increased by about 93.6% from the week prior.
“We’re starting to see hospitalizations increase. Case numbers in Florida are increasing right now pretty explosively,” said Unnasch.
Some doctors say we’re likely now at the beginning of another wave, but this surge will be much different from the ones we saw last year — affecting younger people because so many more older people have already been vaccinated.
“The medical community is probably not going to get as overwhelmed as they could’ve gotten from the earlier waves. But even so, still, there’s going to be a lot of sick people out there I think,” said Unnasch.
While outbreak infections in fully vaccinated people are possible, they're rare. Doctors tell us this will mostly affect people who haven’t been vaccinated.
“People are gathering, they’re not taking precautions, half the population is not vaccinated, and these three things together with a highly infectious variant are going to really push the infection rates up really high I think and we’re going to see a lot of infection and sickness among the unvaccinated population,” said Unnasch.