“We’re going to have a surge after we reopen,” says dean of USF Health

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University of South Florida

USF. By Seán Kinane / WMNF News

Four things have to happen before society can safely open up from closures due to the coronavirus; that’s according to Dr. Charles Lockwood, the Dean of USF Health Morsani College of Medicine.

In an Instagram live talk today hosted by the City of Tampa, Dr. Lockwood said in three or four weeks Hillsborough County might be in good shape to accomplish them all.

Three preconditions are:

(1) to put in place surveillance networks to track peoples’ symptoms,

(2) increase the number of coronavirus tests and perform contract tracing,

and (3) to ramp up antibody tests.

“And the final precondition is not being able to overburden our hospitals or overstretch our PPE supplies, personal protective equipment.

“And again, we’re in great shape in Hillsborough County. We peaked in cases around April 4. I saw the chart last night. We’re way down, back to where we were in early March with cases.

“We’ve not overstretched our hospital supply. We have plenty of hospital capacity, ICU capacity, ventilator capacity. That peak seemed to have occurred about a week ago, maybe five days ago.

“And while every death is incredibly tragic, we have only had one death in the past five days in Hillsborough County. So we’re in very good shape.

“The key is to hold the line. If we can stay in our stay-at-home mode for another three to four weeks we’re going to save many, many lives down the road as potential recurrences happen.”

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Some states plan to start to reopen soon.

“But if we really have underestimated the asymptomatic cases in the United States, particularly in those states, maybe reopening will not lead to the massive spread of the disease. We’ll know within a week or two.

“Hopefully — as they say from my lips to God’s ears — hopefully, there are a lot more asymptomatic cases, a lot of immunity and things will be fine in those three states. But if it’s not, it will certainly validate the measures that have been taken, and be a stark warning about prematurely opening up the economy.

“We’re going to have a surge after we reopen. We just have to keep it down to a reasonable level that doesn’t overburden our health systems. And we may have another surge in the fall.”

Will we be more ready in the fall for that?

“I think we will be in Hillsborough County. I’m not sure about everywhere in the United States.”

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Here’s a link to Dr. Lockwood’s op-ed in the Tampa Bay Times.

 

The number of people hospitalized in Florida due to symptoms of COVID-19 continues to grow.

It’s now at 4,288 – that’s more than 200 more than Tuesday morning. According to the state’s Department of Health website, updated Wednesday morning, 893 people have died from COVID-19 in the state, meaning more than 50 people died since Tuesday’s tally. More than 28,300 people have tested positive in Florida. There are almost certainly more cases than that because only a small percentage of Floridians has been tested.

The Sarasota Herald-Tribune reports that Sarasota County beaches will re-open on Monday, but there will be some restrictions. Beaches will be open for fishing, biking, running, walking, swimming and surfing. But parking lots, concession stands and playgrounds will be closed. Group activities will not be allowed. Neither will coolers, canopies nor chairs.

A second coronavirus outbreak could emerge this winter. The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told the Washington Post that — because it could happen during the flu season it could make for an even more deadly health crisis.