TAMPA, Fla. — Doctors in the state are concerned once again, seeing COVID-19 cases uptick.
In the last week, Florida's numbers have doubled by the thousands every 36 hours. Scientists say waning immunity and holiday travel are helping ignite the next wave.
"We have to be careful. What we're seeing is breakthrough infections is one and waning of immunity. So now, it's very clear that, you know, immunity is not long term," Mathematical Modeler Dr. Edwin Michael said.
He and other doctors are now warning the public as both the delta and omicron variants spread in Florida. Michael says another spike in cases is coming because those who got the shot months ago have less immunity and boosters are needed now.
"We have to brace ourselves right. If you lose your immunity, the only way to regain that is to go and get the boosters, and vaccination rates have stalled," Michael said.
Data shows nearly 100 percent of the population in Florida will be exposed to the omicron variant by February 2, 2022.
"Not pretty at all. In a way, it does surprise me. What really surprises me is how infectious this in this thing seems to be," USF Health's Dr. Tom Unnasch said.
Unnasch says the latest COVID-19 data pokes holes in the state's progress. Florida's infection rate is now back up above the 5 percent needed to flatten the curve while highly contagious variants drive community spread.
"With this new omicron variant, the reproductive rate is now 7.55, which means that for every 100 people that are infectious, they're infecting 755 people instead of 114. That's 7 times greater than what we were seeing with delta," Unnasch said.
Now with people traveling to see family and friends for the holidays, doctors say don't let your guard down.
"Start wearing face masks and try and keep your physical you know, distancing and things. That is the only resort that we have now," Michael said.