Health officials monitor recent rise in COVID-19 cases, summer peak likely

TAMPA, Florida — COVID-19 cases are rising.

“Don’t let COVID go now,” said Dr. Jill Roberts of the USF College of Public Health.

According to the CDC, the number of positive COVID-19 test results is increasing after months of decline.

“I see some of the statistics trending upward. And so the number of positive cases is going up again. Emergency department visits are going up again,” Roberts said.

A new CDC figure shows emergency room visits due to COVID-19 are at their highest level since this winter.

“Over the past month, Centra Care has seen a threefold increase in the number of patients testing positive for COVID,” said Dr. Timothy Hendrix, medical director of AdventHealth Centra Care Urgent Care.

According to the latest projections, FLiRT variants KP.2 and KP.3 account for approximately 61.3% of new COVID-19 cases.

The newest mutation, LB.1, is beginning to gain popularity in the United States and now accounts for about 14.9% of new cases.

In Florida, the CDC is detecting “very high” levels of the COVID-19 virus in wastewater.

“Now we’re seeing more people coming in with those COVID symptoms, which are very similar to flu-like fever, cough, sore throat and fatigue,” Hendrix said.

Doctors believe there are several reasons for the increase, including new variants and the Fourth of July celebration.

“The pattern we tend to see is that if there is a new variant and there is a holiday, we will see an increase in cases,” Hendrix said.

“The other thing I think that could potentially impact this is heat warnings. Heat warnings send people indoors, and that keeps more people indoors,” Roberts said.

With records expected to break over the summer, health officials predict there will likely be more cases.

“As schools reopen in the North, Midwest and West and more tourism comes to Florida, we expect we will likely see an increase in COVID cases,” said Dr. Lisa Cronin, a pediatrician at Children’s Medical Center.

Doctors are encouraging people to get tested for COVID-19 if they feel sick and to stay home to limit the spread.

If you have any home tests lying around from the past few years, they probably still work, experts say.

“The FDA has extended the expiration dates on those home tests many times,” Hendrix said.

“If your tests are expired, they’re probably still working, but watch for that control line. If your control line is positive, you’re probably OK,” Roberts said.

Leave a Comment