TAMPA, Fla. — As the sun sets on 2020, scientists take a look back at the pandemic.
"I think lot of people downplayed it in the beginning. They thought it was just going to be a China problem and wouldn't come here" Virologist Dr. Michael Teng with USF Public Health said.
He didn't think it would get this bad. But his colleagues felt SARs COV-2 may be different than other viruses they had seen in the past.
"I was concerned that this might be something different. That it was part of what we learn and practice in public health and medicine, but it had a twist to it," Dr. Jay Wolfson said.
The first Florida cases were detected back in March. One out of Hillsborough County, the other in Manatee.
"When we first heard of it in the Tampa Bay area, I had already been hearing about cases for a few months in other countries. I was not surprised to see that it ended up here," Infectious Disease Expert Dr. Jill Roberts said.
Months later the state faced its first wave of the virus. Case numbers, hospitalizations, and deaths peaked in July.
"Florida's a unique situation because it's a destination state permanently and for part-time visitors. That's why it's been very difficult for us to control the disease," Wolfson said.
Now despite masks, social distancing, and other COVID-19 measures to prevent the spread, cases have still managed to rise again. The uptick has pushed Florida into a second wave.
USF models predicted the state would end the year reporting around 20,000 cases a day. On the last day of the year, Florida broke its single-day record for new coronavirus cases with 17,192.
"We need to really redouble our efforts. I think with the Emergency Use Authorizations of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, we do have a leg up, so this is the start of something. A new phase in our fight against the pandemic," Teng said.
A New Year means a new fight against COVID-19. Doctors say we can beat it in 2021 if we work together.
"Unfortunately coronavirus doesn't really care that it's New Year's Eve and then it's a new year. It's more of the same for the virus itself. For us, we need to continue to remain vigilant," Roberts said.
When asked what their resolution for Tampa Bay would be, the doctors said they want the community to have hope around this time next year COVID-19 will be under control. It's just going to take some work in the next few months.
"Wear a mask, social distance, and exercise personal responsibility. This is another special day and it gives us an opportunity to say, 'Going forward from this day into this New Year, we believe that things are going to get better and we're going to help it happen,'" Wolfson said.
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