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Coronavirus in Tampa Bay: USF researchers launch community survey to find local COVID-19 hotspots

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TAMPA, Fla (WFLA) – Researchers at the University of South Florida are working to identify coronavirus hotspots across Tampa Bay communities.

Adapted from a symptom-based surveillance program developed by the Puerto Rican Science Trust, USF researchers launched their own version of the platform in order to get a more accurate gauge of how many cases are popping up in specific areas of Hillsborough and Pinellas counties.

“Currently, testing for COVID-19 infection is limited to those most likely to be infected,” said Dr. Thomas Unnasch, a professor for the USF College of Public Health and director of the Center for Global Health Infectious Disease Research. “This system is missing about 90 percent of infections exhibiting mild or no symptoms.”

In partnership with the Hillsborough and Pinellas County Departments of Health, Public Health Program of Ponce Health Sciences University and the Puerto Rico Health Trust, USF’s College of Public Health created the Tampa Bay symptom surveilence survey.

Data collected from the community will show which pockets of Tampa Bay are more experiencing the most health impacts of COVID-19.

“This information will be invaluable in helping to plan for what is to come in the epidemic and to identify the places in our community where transmission is likely to be the most intense,” Unnasch said.

Those in the community who feel they may have COVID-19 can fill out the survey here to answer questions about symptoms and exposure.

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