Public health experts weigh in on current state of pandemic in Florida

Lab worker with a swab
Posted at 5:00 PM, Apr 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-15 17:54:30-04

TAMPA, Fla. — As the nation sees an uptick in COVID-19 cases, public health experts in the Tampa Bay area are taking a closer look at where things stand with the pandemic here.

Florida Department of Health (FDOH) data showed there has been a very, slight uptick in cases in the state recently, though cases are still very low. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services data showed hospitalizations are also very low.

“This is much slower and much more of a really gentle sort of uptick than what we’ve seen with the omicron variant,” said Dr. Thomas Unnasch.

ABC Action News spoke to Dr. Unnasch, a Distinguished USF Health Professor, about COVID cases and hospitalizations in Florida.

“I think we have so much pre-existing immunity from the big omicron wave that we had earlier this year that the virus is just having a really hard time getting a foothold and finding enough people to infect to really try to explode,” said Unnasch.

Right now, the CDC labeled every county in the Tampa Bay area with a low COVID community level.

Dr. Unnasch said a big increase in cases like we saw with the Delta variant isn't likely.

“I personally don’t think so. I don’t think we’re going to see a huge spike in cases,” said Unnasch. “My guess is this is going to do a lot, a similar thing to what we saw with the alpha variant back there last spring, and there that peaked out at about 5,000 or 6,000 cases a day in the state of Florida before starting to decline.”

But, Unnasch admitted it’s hard to say what the virus is going to do next. He thinks we’re starting to see the first inklings of what’s going to happen when the pandemic goes to endemic.

“It’s not something to really freak out about,” said Dr. Unnasch. “If you’re prepared and you’re vaccinated, you’re going to be okay. Otherwise, do get vaccinated if you haven’t been vaccinated.”