USF Health experts presented to Hillsborough County Commissioners Wednesday morning. According to their data, the Tampa Bay Area is already on track for a COVID-19 resurgence.
They said the peak is likely to occur around the first week of February 2021. Several charts within the presentation make projections on just how bad the situation could be based on current social distancing requirements, strengthened social distancing requirements and weakened social distance requirements.
One of the charts illustrates Coronavirus cases requiring hospitalization. A moderate decrease in social distancing and mobility will overwhelm the hospital system. Maintaining what the state already has in place will require 1,100 extra beds. But a moderate increase in social distancing protocol could keep hospital capacity in the safe zone.
At the end of the presentation, a slide titled "key takeaways" listed some highlights of their data. This included vaccinations speeding up herd immunity, making 70-80% of the population immune to the virus that could curb another resurgence after the predicted one coming in February. And if the public continues adhering to COVID-19 safety protocol, that and vaccinations could allow us to "crush the epidemic by 2021."
"The good news is if we practice this, I guarantee with the vaccine coming by the end of April, we are done. This is it. We are done with this problem once and for all," said USF professor Dr. Edwin Micheal.
“We won’t have to take more restrictive steps if you will cooperate with us and take these steps for the next few months so we can get over this hump. Because if we can’t we can see from the data that we are going to be very quickly overwhelmed and we are going to be sitting here facing only bad decisions," said commissioner Harry Cohen.
“By now it’s clear that if we all wear masks we will protect each other from COVID and we will protect ourselves and we will protect our healthcare workers from being overwhelmed," added commissioner Mariella Smith.
The board voted to send a letter to the Governor requesting permission to go back to holding future commission meetings virtually.
The county is also planning a media campaign that will include radio ads and billboards.
They are also asking people to take a Holiday pledge to follow guidelines.
For more information on the pledge, click here.