COVID-19 model researchers concerned about Florida’s reopening

Investigations

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — With Florida now in the final phase of reopening what was closed to help stop the spread of coronavirus, researchers are sounding the alarm and warning that the pandemic and the deaths are far from over.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said Monday he’s very concerned that Florida has lifted all COVID-19 state restrictions.

Researchers agree, and some argue there’s reason to believe them.

“My advice to people in Florida is to be careful,” said Dr. Ali Mokdad.

Dr. Mokdad is a former top official at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

He’s also one of the researchers behind the widely-cited models by the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME).

The models show, nationwide, deaths could surpass 371,000 by Jan. 1, 2021, nearly doubling.

The same troubling increase is predicted in Florida.

Right now, the state has lost more than 14,000 lives, according to data from the Florida Department of Health. IHME’s models show deaths could hit 26,945 by Jan. 1, 2021.

Long-term projections are tricky; however, IHME’s models have become more refined and accurate with time.

“We’ve been quite accurate when it comes to predicting mortality,” said Dr. Mokdad. “We estimated, for example, that 200,000 landmark and it happened two weeks later.”

Dr. Mokdad says 100,000 lives could be saved by the end of the year if nearly all Americans wear a mask.

“My advice to the government of Florida is please keep an eye on the numbers. If they start going up, you should dial back and you should be courageous enough to make the right decision,” said Dr. Mokdad.

During a news conference in Pinellas County on Friday, Gov. Ron DeSantis seemed to declare that no matter what, Florida will stay open.

“We’re prepared if we see an increase, we’re not closing anything going forward,” said Gov. DeSantis.

Researchers worry that people are fatigued. They stress it’s important to keep your guard up as we enter this upcoming flu season.

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