People urged to remain vigilant as vaccine trial progresses

Posted at 11:29 PM, Nov 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-09 23:29:44-05

TAMPA, Fla. — While the U.S. surpassed 10 million total cases of COVID-19 this week, according to John’s Hopkins University, Florida recorded nearly 4,000 more new cases Monday and 58 new deaths.

“It’s an up and down it’s like a roller coaster,” said Kerry Coles.

The Tampa resident said he thought he had allergies in October, but soon learned he had COVID-19. He said his partner also fell ill.

Coles said he has an autoimmune disorder and asthma. About a week into his fight with the virus, he said he landed in the hospital.

“I called my doctor because my breathing had been pretty struggled for a couple of days and seemed to be getting better then I started a low-grade fever that was slowly climbing over a couple of days. So I wasn’t able to get the fever under control. When I spoke to the doctor my practitioner he pretty much knew that I may have already had pneumonia,” Coles said.

Some health experts are raising concerns about cases in the Tampa Bay area.

“There’s no question we’re getting an increase but I think the rate of increase might be accelerating since the beginning of November,” said Thomas Unnasch, Ph.D., a distinguished university professor in the College of Public Health at the University of South Florida.

Unnasch points to the rate of cases doubling.

“When things were really really bad back in late June before they put the mask ordinance in we were doubling about once every six or six and a half days. So the fact that we’re doubling about once every ten days now indicates to me that the epidemic seems to be accelerating back again and we may be in a position pretty soon like North Dakota, South Dakota, some of the northern states are unfortunately where we’re really seeing a dramatic increase in the number of cases,” he said.

This week, Pfizer and BioNTech announced its vaccine candidate was found to be more than 90% effective in preventing COVID-19 in those without prior infection. The clinical trial is continuing.

While a sign of hope, experts said people should still be vigilant.

"We know there's light at the end of the tunnel, but that doesn't mean that we're going to give up the important public health measures that we continually still have to do every single day,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the NIAID.

The measures include things like wearing a mask, social distancing, washing hands, avoiding crowds and areas with poor ventilation.

“There’s just really no way to say how or when you could get it. All would suggest to anybody is to keep your distance, currently, it’s pretty bad out there it’s getting worse until we have the vaccine that can be distributed people are going to be protected, where your mask, and social distance,” said Coles.

He said he was able to go home after two days in the hospital and is grateful.

“Social distance, wear your mask, think about other people, stay in small small groups if you have to gather. Let’s wait this out, there will be a vaccine we will get through it,” he said.