Study: Southwest Florida at high risk for more coronavirus spread

New research out of the University of Texas at Austin looks at the potential spread of the coronavirus through every single county in the U.S., and the data found that here in Southwest Florida, we’re as high risk as you can get.

While that may seem ominous, researchers said it actually means we’re probably doing a good job of managing the outbreak.

UT’s Emily Javan, who helped put the research together, said it all depends on how much testing counties are doing.

“If you guys are in really bright red counties but you still think your testing is quite low relative to the number of people, and people aren’t taking social distancing seriously, then that number is just going to keep growing,” she said.

Kristine Hollingsworth, with the Florida Department of Health Collier County, said that over the last month, her department has tested more than 2,500 people.

“They will receive a screening over the phone by a medical professional. If they do meet that criteria for testing, it’s a drive-thru test by appointment,” she said.

“We have about 10 percent of people who are coming back positive.”

But Javan said to stay ahead of the virus, counties need to open up testing to all residents.

We need to be able to test people who feel fine and are maybe just asymptomatic carriers,” she said.

Hollingsworth said testing of asymptomatic people could happen in Collier, but right now, due to the national shortage of tests, people with symptoms are the number one priority.

And whether you’re asymptomatic or simply healthy, it shouldn’t change your behavior. You should stay home if you can and practice social distancing if you go out. Remember to wash your hands and cover your mouth and nose while out in public.

STUDY LINK: Probability of current COVID-19 outbreaks in all US counties (The University of Texas at Austin)

Reporter:Veronica Marshall
Writer:Jackie Winchester
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