Speaking with CNN’s John King, Dr. Charles Lockwood, Senior Vice President of USF Health, explained how the COVID-19 outbreak in Florida is not as dire as the one that hit New York.
“We’ve had a 5, now 5.4-fold increase in cases since June 10th. We’ve had about 3-fold increase in hospitalizations, and about 2.5-fold increase in deaths,” Lockwood said.
“Each death is terrible, but it’s a different epidemic than hit New York,” he explained. “We have a much younger population being diagnosed and we’re much better prepared. Obviously, we had three months to prepare, so we do have a lot of surge capacity. When you get those numbers about the ICU, they don’t really reflect all the emergency ICU capacity that hospitals have created.”
“For example, Tampa General has 87 additional ventilators available, which we haven’t even begun to use yet. But the most striking thing is our case fatality rate, which has dropped and dropped and dropped. It’s now to 1.5 percent – so that’s cases, deaths over cases,” he continued. “It’s one of the lowest in the country. And in fact in Tampa, in Hillsborough County, today, as of a few minutes ago, it dropped to actually less than 1 percent. We have a case fatality rate of less than 1 percent. So a lot of that’s reflecting the younger population. Most of the folks that we’re diagnosing are between the ages of 15 and 44.”
“Most of the folks in the hospital, in the ICUs, are between the ages of 55 and 85. So the other thing is we’re much better able to take care of them in the hospital. We have Remdesivir; we have Dexamethasone; we have Convalescent Plasma Therapy; we do a much better job of ventilating,” Lockwood continued. “There are couple of other reasons why I’m not as pessimistic as maybe some folks that you’ve heard. One is that we seem to have peaked about a week ago in the emergency department visits for COVID-like illnesses, and also for influenza-like illnesses.”
“The other is that our horrible test-positive rate, which was 20 percent 10 days ago, actually was 20 percent even on 7/8, July 8th, has now dropped to about around 11 percent. So that’s trending in the right direction,” Lockwood concluded. “The other thing that is driving the cases – clearly it’s spread because of the test-positive rate – but we did 143,000 tests on Saturday. When the Governor eight weeks ago said that we were going to triple the number of tests done per day in the state from 10,000 to 30,000 a day, people thought he was crazy.”