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Florida’s spike in coronavirus cases shows no signs of letting up

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BayCare chief medical officer: “People are actually recovering much more than they were before”

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – The surge in the Sunshine State that started in June has continued in July with more than 30,000 new cases of coronavirus reported in the last three days.

In addition to the new single-day high during the pandemic of nearly 11,500 new cases for July 3, Florida hit a new single-day testing record with more than 85,000 results reported to the Florida Department of Health.

“We’ve not only got more expansive testing, again that’s definitely part of it, but we’ve absolutely got community spread,” University of South Florida Associate Professor of Epidemiology Dr. Jason Salemi told 8 On Your Side.

Salemi is tracking the state’s publicly available data for every age group, in particular the rise in pediatric cases.

“The curves for every single age group are going up,” he said. “It is going up in a more pronounced fashion for young adults.”

The Baycare Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Nishant Anand appeared on CNN Saturday morning after the healthcare system announced it will start reducing non-urgent surgeries next Friday in Pinellas County to ensure enough space for COVID-19 patients.

Dr. Anand said the majority of hospital admissions in May were patients from nursing homes, but that’s changed.

“We are seeing individuals who are in their 70s,” he said. “But we’re also seeing kids come in, too.”

Anand said older patients still end up in the ICU more often. He adds that overall, there are more recoveries because doctors have a better grasp of how to treat the infected compared to earlier in the pandemic.

“There was a rush to put people on ventilators previously and now what we do is we actually just put them on high flow nasal oxygen and that actually prevents a lot of the complications and the death rate from increasing,” Anand said.

But he said that last point with caution because the coronavirus death rate always lags behind the number of new cases.

“Despite how fatigued people are, we’re all in this together,” Dr. Anand said. “As long as one person in our community is infected we are all at risk of becoming infected.”

Salemi told 8 On Your Side Florida health officials could improve releasing information on COVID-19 hospitalizations. 

“Right now, when you download individual information on cases all I know is whether or not that individual was hospitalized. What I don’t know is when they were hospitalized.”

Amid the spike in cases, Governor Ron DeSantis has said the state is better off now compared to back in March or April. He has left it up to local governments whether to require mask-wearing indoors or in public places while encouraging Floridians to avoid crowded places, closed spaces and close-contact settings. 

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