Health experts work to learn more about virus, analyze data

Posted at 11:44 PM, Jul 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-10 23:44:05-04

TAMPA, Fla. -- Each day, doctors are working to learn more about COVID-19 as they deal with the patients fighting the virus.

“Things have definitely shifted from the first initial group of patients that we got when this all started. They seemed to be a lot sicker and requiring a lot more care,” said Dr. Michael Patch, an ER physician at AdventHealth. “Now in the past few weeks we’ve seen a giant spike in just the sheer amount of volume that includes the sick ones as well.”

Patch said each patient they see, they have to consider whether they could be a COVID-19 patient and that every day is evolving.

“Initially, the three major symptoms were fever, cough and difficulty breathing and eventually spread to encompass a lot more and -- especially younger people -- seeing more GI-related symptoms like abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea as well as loss of taste and smell, headaches. Just things that you know kind of encompass the whole body other than respiratory symptoms,” he said.

Experts are working to understand the virus even more.

“There’s definitely a lot left to learn there’s a collaborative effort, actually through social media that involves physicians from around the world and that has been a tremendous help with treatment studies, effective therapies and things like that,” said Patch.

The damage from the virus is reflected in recent statistics.

“We’re kind of stuck right now. Right at the point if things hold out, I think we’re gonna be OK, in terms of hospital capacity but even a little bit extra hospital capacity is gonna push us over the edge,” said Thomas Unnasch, Ph.D, a distinguished USF Health professor.

He’s keeping a close eye on the data. While he said it’s showing a spike in hospital admissions and an increase in reported deaths, there are some bright spots in data he’s looked at from Hillsborough County.

“The rate of growth over the last 8 to 10 days or so in the number of positive tests that are being reported is pretty much almost flat or only slightly increasing. So that suggested that this mask ordinance and people paying attention to it has really had a real impact on the growth of this epidemic. And hopefully, we’re really slowing it down,” he said.

Meanwhile officials are encouraging people to follow mitigation efforts.

“If everyone would wear the mask -- very, very simple step to take -- wear a mask and we won’t have to take any further steps like shutting down businesses or safer-at-home orders,” said Tampa Mayor Jane Castor.