Central Floridians need to take coronavirus precautions as state reopens, expert says

1,305 new COVID-19 cases reported Friday

ORLANDO, Fla. – As Florida continues reopening, the state saw the highest number of new COVID-19 cases Thursday that it has seen since the state started tracking.

Most businesses want to get back open, but experts warn if it’s not done correctly, it could lead to more infections and possibly even more deaths.

On Friday, Florida, saw 1,305 new coronavirus cases.

The day before, the state had 1,419 new cases -- a record for the highest number of new cases in a single day.

Both of these days put the state on track to be one of the worst weeks of new infections since the virus started and it’s happening as Central Florida moves into phase two of reopening.

Dr. Ali Mokdad, with the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, has developed COVID-19 projections that are used around the world and even by the White House.

“The virus is still out there and it’s circulating so you have to be extra careful. We shouldn’t let our guard down,” Mokdad said.

More positive cases could be a result of more testing, he said.

Florida is reopening as the state has already seen 2,660 deaths, according to the state’s COVID-19 dashboard.

Mokdad projects there could be 3,707 deaths by Aug. 4, which could mean more than a thousand more lives lost in two months, if the community is not careful about transmission.

“So it’s very important for us to open our country but let’s do it correctly,” Mokdad said.

The key to keeping infections low, according to Mokdad, is what we have heard ad nauseam: washing hands frequently, keeping your distance from others and wearing masks, especially at large gatherings like protests.

In this case, Mokdad believes people should continue the demonstrations just wearing masks and keeping their distance.

“This is a very important issue that we are dealing with. Racism in my opinion, as a professional, it is more dangerous to my country than COVID-19, and I’m telling you this today and we have more than 100,000 deaths from COVID-19,” Mokdad said.

He added that it’s a problem that needs to be solved.

“Racism has been with us for a long time. We will find a vaccine for COVID-19, but we have to deal with racism, because it is a public health issue, it’s a population health issue,” he said. “We have to still demonstrate peacefully to make sure that as public health officials, we don’t stand for this racism and for police brutality in our own community."

Research shows that face coverings reduce transmission, so like other health care professionals, Mokdad believes everyone should wear them when leaving their home and still maintain their distance from other people.

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