COVID-19 cases are declining in Fla., but experts warn it's time to double down in the final stretch

COVID-19 tests
Posted at 5:36 PM, Feb 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-17 17:40:48-05

TAMPA, Fla. — Some good news on the coronavirus front. COVID-19 numbers are continuing on a downward trend in the Tampa Bay area, and across the state.

While that is a good thing, doctors would still like to see the case counts well below where they sit now.

During today’s Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners meeting, Dr. Douglas Holt, the Director of the Hillsborough County Department of Health talked about the declining percent positivity rate, which now sits just above 8 percent in Hillsborough County.

Dr. Holt mentioned that Hillsborough County is on the “floor” of what the county calls the “red zone” for COVID-19 cases. The “red zone” means there is still a high level of community spread, and health officials would like us to get below the "red zone."

Hillsborough County "red zone" for COVID-19 cases

So the question is, will the numbers continue their downward spiral?

“COVID-19 numbers in the Tampa Bay area, in Florida, and in the United States, and worldwide are looking pretty good,” said Dr. Thomas Unnasch, Distinguished Professor at USF.

Daily case counts are down around half of what they were during our January peak, but why?

“The numbers that we’ve been seeing in terms of mobility are down quite a bit. So people are not moving around nearly as much as they did before, so they’re paying attention to social distancing,” said Dr. Unnasch.

More people are social distancing, and more people are wearing masks.

“The whole idea of mask-wearing has become depoliticized since January 21, and you’re seeing a lot more people being, adhering to wearing masks,” said Dr. Unnasch.

Those are the two biggest players, but not the only ones. More people are also becoming immune.

“We probably have close to a third of the population who've been exposed, and another 10 percent or 12 percent of the population in Florida that’s been vaccinated,” said Dr. Unnasch.

While this is all good news, doctors warn behaviors right now are critical, as the more infectious COVID-19 U.K. variant spreads in Florida.

“We’re at a fork in the trail, and if we take the right-hand fork, it’s gonna be a nice, gentle downslope. If we take the left-hand fork, we’re gonna have to climb the highest mountain we’ve ever climbed,” said Dr. Unnasch.

Luckily, we already know what’s going to save us, and soon, this will be a thing of the past.

“This is gonna be all over, I promise you, by July 4, or right around the mid-summertime,” said Dr. Unnasch.