Health officials urge caution and mask-wearing as Florida coronavirus cases climb

USF epidemiologist Jason Salemi said it's time people get back into a community mindset of preventing infection with several counties across Tampa Bay region now at a high risk of COVID-19 transmission.

HEALTH NEWS FLORIDA – Federal health officials are recommending more Floridians wear masks indoors as the coronavirus spreads.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a number of counties across the greater Tampa Bay region are now categorized as “at a high risk” of COVID-19 as cases continue to climb across the state — and hospitalizations increase as well.

Among the counties the CDC lists are Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Polk and Sarasota, along with areas of South Florida.

According to University of South Florida epidemiologist Jason Salemi, many Florida counties have had high levels of virus spreading for weeks.

But because hospitalizations lagged, the CDC still considered overall risk in most of those places as low or medium.

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That’s changed, however, as COVID hospitalizations are still lower than they’ve been during previous surges but have steadily increased.

Salemi said it’s time people get back into a community mindset of preventing infection rather than focus only on their individual risk.

Federal health officials recommend all residents in high-risk counties wear masks indoors and stay up-to-date on COVID vaccines.

Salemi also urges people to spend more time socializing outdoors where there’s more ventilation.

“But if that heat does drive you indoors into places like bars and restaurants, those are the places that I think the virus is just going to spread from person to person so much more easily” … READ MORE. 

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