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Hillsborough County's 106% increase in deaths is 'lagging' indicator, doctor says

Indicators like positivity rate are improving
Posted at 1:05 PM, Jul 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-30 17:56:05-04

HILLSBOROUGH, COUNTY, Fla. — The Hillsborough County Emergency Policy Group, or EPG, spoke about the latest COVID-19 trends in the county Thursday afternoon.

According to public documents, there were 328 deaths reported in the county. On average, nine people die because of COVID-19 in Hillsborough County every day. That's an increase of 106% compared to the previous seven days.

“It says that we had an out of control epidemic here in Hillsborough county a month ago," said Dr. Charles Lockwood, Senior VP at USF Health. "It’s going to take another three weeks to begin to see a substantial drop in deaths.”

Lockwood says the death rate is a delayed picture of how well we're fighting the virus. He says the daily numbers are not perfect.

For some deaths, it takes time to investigate what really killed a patient and by the time it is tallied, it could mean a bump in deaths on certain days.

The age group with the highest number of positive cases is 20-30-year-olds.

Over 10,000 people have recovered from COVID-19 in the county. The number of positive cases has decreased by 17% in the last two weeks sitting at an average of 518 cases.

The positivity rate is 13.2%, a decrease for the county, but above the expert-recommended benchmark of below 10%.

The ICU bed occupancy at hospitals is 82% for any type of illness. COVID-19 admissions average 33 patients within the last seven days, it’s a 5% decrease.

Lockwood attributes the improving indicators to the mask mandate approved by a 5-3 vote on June 22.

When it comes to contact tracing, there are 119 individuals charged with finding who may have been exposed. The county hopes to have contact tracers focused on K-12 and universities, and long-term care facilities.

The county is requesting 515 additional healthcare professionals to deal with the pandemic.