TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – New concerns are being raised about the coronavirus pandemic after Floridians flocked to beaches this Memorial Day weekend.
From Daytona Beach to Pensacola Beach and even Siesta Key Beach in Sarasota, some people chose to take a holiday from social distancing during Memorial Day weekend.
The question now is – could overcrowded scenes lead to a COVID-19 surge in Florida?
“With the reopening, what we did was, and this was over 3 weeks ago now, we did the Phase One,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said at a news conference in Miami Tuesday.
Since Florida reopened, Gov. DeSantis says, outbreaks have been limited mostly to prisons and long-term care facilities.
“We’ve had so much hospital space this whole time, there’s never any danger of being overwhelmed since we went into Phase One, no change in that,” he said.
But new models suggest a spike in COVID-19 cases in parts of the South.
The models, developed by PolicyLab at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, predict a possible spike in coronavirus cases in some of Florida’s counties in the coming weeks.
“Are we seeing the epidemic surge? No,” said Dr. David Rubin. “Is there a potential for that surge? Absolutely.”
Dr. Rubin is an epidemiologist, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania and the director of PolicyLab, the organization behind the new models.
“You can see evidence of transmission starting to rise,” said Dr. Rubin.
PolicyLab’s models determine how social distancing, population and factors like the temperature can impact the spread of COVID-19.
“Our models currently suggest that temperature and humidity is not going to be enough to completely mitigate the transmission you are seeing,” said Dr. Rubin.
South Florida is predicted to see an increase in cases. Models show the number of cases will also increase in parts of the Tampa Bay region including Hillsborough, Polk and Pinellas counties.
8 On Your Side will be closely watching the number of positive cases in our area.
Dr. Rubin says it’s critical for everyone to continue mitigation efforts.
You can check out the projections for your county on PolicyLab’s website here.
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