Coronavirus cases are spiking nationwide, and experts tell CNN Florida could be the next epicenter in the pandemic.
That warning comes via Wednesday's projections from a model by scientists at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania.
- St. Petersburg mayor issues mandatory mask order for business employees
- Tampa General Hospital epidemiologist urges people to wear masks, not attend parties
- USF professor: Up to 18,000 new Hillsborough Co. COVID-19 cases a day if people ignore social distancing, don't wear masks
Florida was one of 10 states that saw a record number of new COVID-19 cases this week.
Between Wednesday and Thursday, the Florida DOH reported 3,207 new COVID-19 cases and 43 deaths.
Dr. Thomas Unnasch, a professor in the College of Public Health at USF, says the Tampa Bay area is seeing a growth rate faster than the state as a whole.
“The age group 18 to 34 is where we’re seeing a vast growth in the number of infections," he said. "Just because you’re not gonna die doesn’t mean that you’re not gonna be flat on your back for three weeks and then take another six weeks to recover.”
He and his students studied the effectiveness of masks and found, “wearing a simple bandanna or handkerchief across your face will block the number of aerosols going out and coming in by about 50%. So if you wear it, and somebody you are talking to wears it, that’s a 75% reduction overall.”
It's even better with handmade masks that have multiple layers of fabric, he said. They can block up to 80% of respiratory aerosols and if two people that talk to each other wear that mask, that number jumps to 96%.
Governor Ron DeSantis said those cases can be traced to hot spots like farm labor camps or particular businesses. DeSantis said he doesn't intend to re-close the economy amid the rise in cases.
The ABC Action News I-Team reviewed the new numbers on Tuesday and found a spike in new coronavirus hospitalizations across Florida with a total of 1,021 new COVID-19 patients admitted in the week beginning June 10.
Baycare Health System sent a memo to employees this week that said "BayCare facilities, like almost all hospitals in the area, have as many or more COVID-19 patients than earlier in the pandemic. We urge the public to continue to do their part to prevent the virus’ spread by practicing social distancing, wearing a mask and washing hands frequently."
According to an expert who spoke to CNN, Florida has "all of the markings of the next large epicenter of coronavirus transmission" and risks being the "worst it has ever been."
Twenty-one states are seeing an upward trend in new cases of the coronavirus.