Officials across Central Florida and throughout the state are considering taking a few steps back as they assess a recent, steady rise in newly reported cases of COVID-19.
Nearly every day over the past two weeks, Florida has seen large increases of reported coronavirus cases, with some days seeing a rise in reported infections that rival numbers when the disease first hit the state in early March.
As of Tuesday, the FDOH reported 2,783 new cases of COVID-19, as well as 55 new deaths. This is the largest jump in newly reported cases of COVID-19 since the disease was detected in the state on March 1.
The new statistics bring the total number of coronavirus cases reported in Florida to 80,109, along with 2,993 total deaths.
On Saturday, state health officials reported about 2,500 new cases of COVID-19, the second-highest number of newly reported cases in a single day.
While the new numbers remain high, the positive results are likely stemming from infections up to two weeks previous, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention maintains that the coronavirus has an incubation period of two to 14 days before symptoms become apparent, if at all.
Some individuals may never experience any symptoms of COVID-19 but may still be positive for the disease, which can lead to asymptomatic spread.
Since March, 12,206 people have required hospitalization due to severe cases of COVID-19.
The state does not report the number of current patients in hospitals with the coronavirus, but rather the overall total. The state also does not share the number of individuals who have recovered from the disease after being diagnosed.
The newly reported cases also depend on the number of tests administered per day, but the state doesn’t release private lab testing in its overall total so that percentage is difficult to determine.
Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings issued words of caution in a news conference Monday, saying that a continued rise in cases could mean scaling back business reopenings and public events to help control the spread of the disease. Demings said a lockdown could be put back in place to protect residents if newly reported cases of COVID-19 continue to rise.
Dr. Raul Pino, director of the Florida Department of Health in Orange County, provided the latest coronavirus figures for the region, which showed a spike of 730 new COVID-19 cases last week alone, up 202% from the week before.
[‘We’re not there yet:’ Orange County mayor doesn’t want to go back to lockdown as COVID-19 cases rise]
The Associated Press reported Monday that some pubs, bars and restaurants across the state are temporarily closing their doors after being back open for just a few weeks because workers or patrons have tested positive for the new coronavirus.
Here’s how coronavirus cases break down by Central Florida county:
While new cases continue to be reported, health officials are working to determine if COVID-19 infections could have any lasting effects on the human body.
Medical experts know that most cases of coronavirus tend to resolve in a few weeks, but it could be too soon to tell what long-terms effects could surface.
According to the Associated Press, people who experience longer-term effects from COVID-19 would most commonly report bouts of exhaustion, headaches, anxiety and muscle aches that can last for at least several more weeks.
Patients who required intensive care, including those put on ventilators or kidney dialysis, can experience more serious issues.
Lung scarring can occur in people who developed pneumonia. Heart inflammation, irregular heartbeats, and worsening kidney and liver function have been reported as well. However, it’s too soon to know if those could be permanent problems.
The United Kingdom has had two important breakthroughs in their fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
The AP reported Tuesday that researchers in England said they have evidence that a drug can improve COVID-19 survival: A steroid called dexamethasone reduced deaths by up to one third in severely ill hospitalized patients
The study used a large, strict test that randomly assigned 2,104 patients to get the drug and compared them with 4,321 patients getting only usual care.
The drug was given either orally or through an IV. It reduced deaths by 35% in patients who needed treatment with breathing machines and by 20% in those only needing supplemental oxygen. It did not appear to help less ill patients.
“This is an extremely welcome result,” one study leader, Peter Horby of the University of Oxford, said in a statement. "The survival benefit is clear and large in those patients who are sick enough to require oxygen treatment, so dexamethasone should now become standard of care in these patients. Dexamethasone is inexpensive, on the shelf, and can be used immediately to save lives worldwide.”
This new data was highly welcome news after a similar study earlier in the month showed the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine was not working against the coronavirus.
[MORE DETAILS: First drug proves able to improve survival from COVID-19]
AP also reported that scientists at Imperial College London will start immunizing people in Britain this week with their experimental coronavirus injection, becoming the latest entry into the race to find an effective vaccine to stop the pandemic.
In a statement, the British government said 300 healthy people will be immunized with two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine candidate developed at Imperial, which has been backed by $51 million in government funding.
The COVID-19 vaccine uses synthetic strands of genetic code based on the virus, as is the similar science behind other vaccines that are used to fight off disease. Once injected into the muscle, the body’s own cells are instructed to make copies of a spiky protein on the coronavirus. That should in turn trigger an immune response so the body can fight off any future COVID-19 infection.