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USF epidemiologist says following COVID-19 guidelines crucial for end of year

Health officials are warning this holiday season will create a huge surge in COVID-19 cases. We wanted to know how different holiday cases could look compared to when Gov. Ron DeSantis reopened the state in late September.

We spoke to Epidemiologist Edwin Michael, Ph.D., Monday who studies Florida trends, and he showed us whether we are expected to get a third wave early next in 2021.

When the governor reopened the state to 100% capacity, the number of COVID-19 cases hovered around 17,000 a week statewide. Two months later, that number is 53,000 a week and growing.

“We are in the exponential wave of the coming wave,” Michael said.

Michael, who is a professor at USF, told us Florida opened too early.

“As soon as the social measures were off, you will get a resurgence, and that is inevitable,” Michael said. “The whole point of the lockdown is that if we were going to reopen earlier, you better make sure you have the testing capacity, you know testing capacity and contact tracing.”

That did not happen, so with the holidays upon us, Michael fears we’re in for a rough end of the year.

“Without controlling the pandemic, you’re going to see a resurgence,” Michael said. “That’s going to start in November, and that’s what we are seeing now.”

That’s why the epidemiologist would like for us to avoid large gatherings this Thanksgiving and to wear masks. He told us Floridians know how to follow the science when it comes to hurricanes, and he wants us to do it now with COVID-19.

Michael warns, if we don’t, the virus will keep spreading and keep killing.

“It’s an uncertain science, and yet we follow hurricane prediction,” Michael said. “Why is a pandemic prediction so difficult to accept?”

Reporter:Nicole Gabe
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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