NewsHillsborough County


CDC: Hillsborough, Pinellas, and Pasco at 'high risk' for COVID-19

HHS reports 2,349 COVID hospitalizations in Fla.
CDC logo
Posted at 5:24 PM, May 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-27 18:24:58-04

TAMPA, Fla — Ahead of Memorial Day weekend, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention placed Hillsborough, Pinellas, and Pasco counties at “high risk” for COVID-19 after the state reported more than 64,000 COVID infections in the last week.

"We've been at high transmission levels for a while and they've now adjusted their community levels to high risk. So that means in addition to high transmission levels, we now have high hospitalizations. So the high community levels mean that there's a more of a risk of having hospitalizations, and especially having hospitals full," Dr. Michael Teng, Associate Professor of Medicine at USF Health, said.

As of Friday, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Servicesreported 2,349 COVID hospitalizations in the state of Florida. Of that number 229 are in ICU which is roughly 4 percent of ICU beds being used to treat COVID patients.

"What I've heard is that the hospitalizations are not as many of the ICU hospitalizations as previously. So we have a population, we've just gone through this Omicron wave right, so there is some residual immunity out in the public. So we're not seeing the really really severe cases as much but we are still seeing hospitalizations," Dr. Teng explained.

ABC Action News asked Dr. Teng how much more at-risk people are now that the Tampa Bay area is considered in the red category.

"I think this is some of the confusing messaging coming out of the CDC. What does high risk really mean? For the last couple of weeks, I would say we've had a high level of transmission already. So those people who have medical issues are immunosuppressed, they were already at high risk. Now we're starting to see more transmission between people who have been vaccinated or have you know previously been infected. So the virus is starting to start to ramp up a little bit," Dr. Teng added

Drilling down to the county level the CDC placedHillsborough County at high risk with 224 COVID cases and 14 hospitalizations per 100,000 residents. That’s about 3% of patients being treated for COVID.

Pinellas County mirrored those numbers reporting 246 COVID cases and 14 hospitalizations per 100,000 residents.

For high-risk areas, the CDC recommends wearing a mask in public, indoor places and on public transportation and continuing to get tested if you have any symptoms.

"I think whenever you're in a situation where there's high transmission levels; you should be really cognizant about trying to prevent transmission, trying to prevent yourself from getting infected because what we do know is that there's been a certain percentage of people who get infected develop this long COVID or post-acute infection symptoms, and that turns out to be you know, something like 20%. So, it's quite a number of people that are still having symptoms, even after they've gotten over infection," Dr. Teng added.