Health experts warn of dangers with complacency as infection rates hold steady

Throughout the month of September, COVID-19 infection rates stayed steady with a seven-day rolling average of about 2,600 cases in Florida.

There was not a spike in cases following Labor Day Weekend; a difference from the spike Florida saw following Memorial Day Weekend and the Fourth of July.

"It wasn't as bad as if people had gotten totally wild and we would've seen a big increase in infections. It's worse than what we were seeing in August when we were seeing a nice decline," said Dr. Thomas Unnasch, a public health professor at the University of South Florida.

Dr. Unnasch is leading a team of researchers who are making models, predicting COVID-19 infection rates in the Tampa Bay region. Using data from the Florida Department of Health, he says the seven-day averages in positive cases between mid-July and the end of August decreased from nearly 12,000 cases, to about 3,000 cases.

As the current infection rates hover around 2,600 per week, Governor Ron DeSantis announced Friday an executive order moving the state into Phase 3 of re-opening. If there is a spike in cases, the governor said Florida will be ready.

“This is a virus that has confounded a lot of people. We are prepared if we see an increase," Gov. DeSantis said.  "We aren’t closing anything going forward, but if you look at our hospital capacity, if you look what we did to marshal the latest medications, PPE, and testing and everything, we have the tools in place that we need.”  

Medical experts say the public needs to continue wearing masks and social distancing until there is a widely-distributed COVID-19 vaccine.