PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – After losing his father in one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in Tampa Bay and the state, a University of Florida health professor told 8 On Your Side Floridians need to be more proactive right now to stop the surge of new infections.
“I think people have this false sense right now. It’s a spike in cases but two weeks from now it’s going to be a spike in hospitalizations and then after that, it’s gonna be a spike in deaths,” Dr. Todd Brusko said.
Brusko’s father, Vincent Narcisi, passed away in May after fighting COVID-19 for more than two weeks.
“He was 91 at the time, so I was shocked that he had survived it as long as he had,” Brusko said.
But Brusko added that toughness his dad showed at the end is something he developed earlier in life as a boxer.
“He had a big sort of plum shaped nose from having his nose broken so any times,” he said.
Born during the Great Depression in Philadelphia, Narcisi served his country during the Korean War. He ran a now-closed electronics shop called TV & Music Center for three decades with another son in St. Pete Beach.
Narcisi lived in Madeira Beach before spending the last two years of his life at Seminole Pavilion at Freedom Square.
“Where my father was,” Dr. Brusko said, “was really one of the big tragedies in Tampa Bay area based on number of patients that were infected.”
More than 30 patient deaths are tied to the Freedom Square senior community in Seminole.
“I just hope people think about their responsibility not only to themselves and their own families but also people like my dad as they walk around,” Brusko said.
An immunologist specializing in diabetes research at UF, Brusko said he is concerned about the state’s health system become overwhelmed.
“We’re seeing this spread at a rate that is terrifying right now and have to keep in mind we don’t have kids in school,” he said.
He told 8 On Your Side Floridians, especially young adults testing positive at the highest rate, need to take the pandemic seriously, put on a mask in public and make sacrifices to slow the spread.
“That sacrifice goes to waste if we are not all responsible as a society,” he said. “It only takes a couple people to become super-spreaders of this virus and to ruin not only health and wellbeing of all of us but also the economy of the State of Florida.”
Brusko said it’s tough that he still cannot visit his mom, but added her assisted living facility in Largo has done a much better job protecting its residents. He said the ongoing restricted access statewide is necessary to the most vulnerable.