Tampa General Hospital epidemiologist urges people to wear masks, not attend parties

Posted at 10:00 PM, Jun 16, 2020

TAMPA, Fla. -- The Florida Department Of Health (DOH) says the number of known cases of COVID-19 in the state increased by 2,783 since Monday morning as the virus spreads.

Governor Ron DeSantis said more people are being tested. He said there is mass testing in high-risk environments like migrant/farm workers, jails and prisons and long-term care facilities. He also said there is widespread testing of asymptomatic people.

Dr. Seetha Lakshmi is an infectious disease trained physician and an epidemiologist at Tampa General Hospital. She is also an assistant professor at the University of South Florida.

Dr. Lakshmi said the community can help stop the transmission of COVID-19.

"Don't go to mass gatherings, don't go for parties even, if it's your coworker's parties. Not a good time right now, minimize outdoor exposures as much as you can. Even the grocery store trips, the shortest times. Please, please wear a mask," said Dr. Lakshmi.

"We know that communities that wear masks consistently do considerably better," she added.

On Tuesday, the World Health Organization (WHO) welcomes the initial clinical trial results from the United Kingdom that show dexamethasone can be lifesaving for critically ill COVID-19 patients.

Dr. Lakshmi said it is not a new medicine and it has been around for a long time. It is a steroid that decreases inflammation in the body.

"It's a well-done study and it's very useful," she said.

"There is still a lot of details we'd like to see in terms of the safety," she added.

She said 2 groups of people will benefit from this treatment.

"Anybody who is requiring oxygen and who has COVID-19 would benefit from it and anybody who is on a breathing machine so if you're not in those two categories, you probably don't benefit from it," said Dr. Lakshmi.

According to The World Health Organization, dexamethasone has been used since the 1960s to reduce inflammation in a range of conditions, including inflammatory disorders and certain cancers.

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