ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Health experts said Florida has reached its peak for coroanvirus cases, but the death rate is still rising.
New projections released Thursday by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation project thousands of Floridians will die from COVID-19 in the next four months.
Dr. Omayra Mansfield, the chief medical officer for AdventHealth Apopka and AdventHealth Winter Garden, participated in the hospital’s morning briefing. She said overall the area’s coronavirus cases are plateauing.
“In the last few days, we’ve maybe seen a blip down or a blip up, but generally speaking that averages out to stay at that plateau,” Mansfield said.
Mansfield said the area reached its peak of COVID-19 cases last month.
"We do believe we reached our peak for this particular wave about two and half, two weeks ago now," she said.
She credits this to the community following safety guidelines, like wearing masks and social distancing. But she said we are not seeing a dramatic drop in cases yet.
“We would hope to see a further decrease if people continue to exhibit these good behaviors that we’re asking them to, but a lot of the burden on this is going to fall on our community to follow the best recommendations,” Mansfield said.
This comes as Dr. Ali Mokdad with the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation released new COVID-19 projections on Thursday. His projections are used around the world, even by the White House.
He agrees that Florida is seeing a decrease in cases, but an increase in deaths.
“Mortality, unfortunately, we keep going up a little bit because there is a lag between infection and mortality, which sometimes it’s between two to three weeks,” Mokdad said.
According to the IHME projections, 19,358 Floridians will die from COVID-19 by Dec. 1. Mokdad said the state could be forced to shut down again in late August to stop the spread.
“We expect Florida will reach the 8 deaths per million (people) sometime in the next couple of weeks and they will impose mandates all over again and we’re assuming these mandates would be at least for six weeks,” Mokdad said.
Mokdad said projections show if the state doesn’t shut down and eases back on restrictions, 61,938 people in Florida will die from COVID-19 by Dec. 1. He adds if 95% of the state wears a mask, the projections show 15,765 Floridians will die by Dec. 1.
Mokdad said mandates will stop the spread of the virus.
“Yes, because right now we’re heading into fall and winter and seasonality will increase COVID-19 circulation, we know that,” he said.
Both doctors said we could see an increase in cases as schools reopen this month. They are encouraging everyone to keep following safety guidelines, wear your mask and don’t let your guard down.
As of Thursday, Florida has reported a cumulative total of 510,389 COVID-19 infections and 7,871 deaths.