*This article has been updated with more numbers as to the counties with high or medium levels of transmission. Highlands County has been added as a medium-transmission county, it was not on the original list.
TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Most of Tampa Bay has high community transmission levels of COVID-19 as of last week, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The state of Florida currently has a COVID positivity rate of 20 to 24.9%, according to the CDC.
However, while transmissibility is higher, health experts from the University of South Florida said in a virtual event with Tampa Mayor Jane Castor that the severity of the virus at this stage is much lower than previous iterations and variants.
Still, both the mayor and the health expert, Morsani College of Medicine Dean Dr. Charles Lockwood, urged people to continue seeking vaccinations and booster shots against COVID-19 for their own health and safety.
“The bottom line is, it is more transmissible. It is less and less severe with each of these iterations,” Lockwood said. “We’ve got lots of people that are immune,” Lockwood said Wednesday. “Probably 95% of people in Hillsborough County are immune. Either because they’ve been vaccinated, 70% have been vaccinated, or they’ve gotten infected, or they’ve gotten both. Which is a lot of people.”
In Tampa Bay, Citrus, Highlands, Hernando and Hardee counties all have medium levels of transmission of COVID-19. The rest of the the more populated counties like Hillsborough, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Manatee and Sarasota are all zoned for high transmission rates. That means that, as of the data available, those counties have transmission rates of about 300 cases per 100,000 people.
The medium transmission rates, by comparison, are lower, closer to 200 cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 people. The CDC COVID-19 data was last updated on June 2. Some areas like Northwest Florida and parts of South Florida have low community levels of COVID-19.
The CDC data describes the COVID community levels as “new COVID-19 admissions per 100,000 population.” The CDC reports that, statewide, Florida has had 71,662 cases of COVID-19 in the past seven days, with roughly 28,905 cases per 100,000 people.