TAMPA, Florida – COVID-19 infections are on the rise in Europe and experts say the United States should take it as a warning. There are already red flags, we could be on the cusp of a third wave.
The variant of the B.1.1.7 coronavirus continues to spread rapidly across the country. The CDC is reporting more than 7,500 cases nationwide, with the number nearly doubling in Florida in the past two weeks, to 1,042.
“I think we are in a race between having adequate vaccinations and whether or not these variants are necessary,” said USF public health professor Dr. Marissa Levine.
Dr Levine says what worries her and the other officials is what’s going on with the level of infection here in the Sunny State. COVID-19 cases have been drastically down since the January peak. However, over the past few weeks they have stabilized.
“The tests don’t give us the big picture, but even with the tests we have, we are seeing that this plateau is leveling off, and we need to watch carefully to see what happens with the hospitalizations over the next few weeks, and even deaths, ”Levine said. .
This is a trend that we are seeing in every county in the Tampa Bay area. Experts say a plateau similar to this is usually the forerunner of another surge, this time driven by the British variant on its way to becoming the dominant strain.
“We have a significant influx of this variant, the British variant, which we know is more transmissible,” Levine said. “But, we also have a population of people who are vaccinated, so the dynamics are pretty complicated right now, which is why it’s really hard to predict. ”
There aren’t enough people vaccinated yet to achieve herd immunity or to blunt a wave of new infections. Yet we can prevent another wave. Levine says people need to double down on wearing masks and stay socially distant and continue to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
“Now is the time to get the vaccine, if you have waited there is no reason to wait any longer, to get the vaccine,” she said.
Besides the variant, experts say the massive spring break crowds in Florida, coupled with more states easing prevention measures, could threaten the progress we’ve made against the virus.