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Doctors say comments made at Governor DeSantis' public health roundtable were 'disheartening'

Most of the panel's opinions on COVID-19 mitigation don't line up with some of our local health experts.

TAMPA, Fla. — Governor DeSantis focused his attention on the measures used to slow the spread of the virus over the past year on Thursday.

He invited four health professionals from around the world for a public health roundtable to weigh in on the effectiveness of lockdowns, closing schools and more.

But their opinions don't line up with some of our local health experts.

Credit: 10 Tampa Bay
Three USF Public Health doctors talk COVID-19 mitigation efforts

After guiding Tampa Bay through the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Jill Roberts, Dr. Tom Unnasch and Dr. Michael Teng all watched. 

The first issue at hand - lockdowns. All experts in the roundtable said lockdowns don't work in helping stop the spread of the virus.

"It's not just that they failed to stop the infection, the lockdowns actually killed people, destroyed lives, destroyed families," Radiologist Dr. Scott Atlas said.

But our experts say right now data shows the opposite, even as research is ongoing.

"I don't know how you make that statement, especially when you look at places like New York," Epidemiologist Dr. Jill Roberts said.

Her colleagues agree saying it may have been heavy-handed, but it was effective to stop the healthcare system from getting overwhelmed and to help get us to a point where we could understand the virus.

"If we didn't have restrictions, we wouldn't see, you know, the lower numbers of cases that we do," Virologist Dr. Michael Teng said.

While they didn't agree with most of the roundtable's points, such as the claim data hasn't shown masks help stop the spread of the disease, they did agree with the claim schools should be open. As long as safety measures are in place.

"I do think there are ways of having schools open, that are safe. I think we've seen that from some data that schools don't seem to be super spreader events, but we reopened with masks and social distancing precautions," Teng said.

After watching it all, our doctors wished more doctors were at the table.

"He brought together a rather biased group of people who hold a really pretty much what's believed to be a minority view about the best ways of approaching this epidemic from a public health standpoint unfortunately," Dr. Tom Unnasch said.

While our doctors were critical of what was said at the roundtable, there's still a lot more data needed to determine what worked and what didn't throughout this year. 

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