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USF professor concerned about elderly death rate during COVID-19 surge in Florida

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Posted at 4:44 PM, Nov 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-16 18:42:25-05

TAMPA, Fla. — Jim and Linda Vaessen traveled from Idaho to Polk County to visit their great-grandchildren.

“We were nervous. We didn’t want to get sick because we have underlying medical problems. And we didn’t want to get sick to bring it down here," Linda said.

They both tested negative for COVID before the trip, but now with the virus surging in Florida, they are worried.

“If my husband and I got it. We would pass away for sure," Linda. said.

USF professor, Dr. Jason Salemi studies the COVID-19 numbers released by the Florida Department of Health.

He says in the last month overall cases in our state are up 117%. Among ages 65 to 79, it’s 116%. And cases for those 80 and up have more than doubled.

But he says the real concern is the older population’s death rate.

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“Of all those people we are seeing on a daily basis that are counted as a case, if they are 65 to 79 years old, about 1 in 12 of those individuals are going to pass from this virus," said Dr. Salemi.

And for those 80 and up, one out of four will die.

“That’s why it concerns me when I see these cases rising, I know that a non-trivial portion of those people are likely to die from this virus," said Dr. Salemi.

Meanwhile, Jim and Linda are enjoying what’s left of their visit and continuing to take precautions.

“I don’t think people are taking it serious enough, and I think it would have been a lot better if people would have. I think we would have been out of it by now. But it seems like the younger generation thumbs their nose at it and want upon their own merry way," said Jim Vaessen.

Dr. Salemi says while we are seeing the increased number of positive cases right now, we won’t know what that means for the death rate until a couple more weeks pass.