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'Look out for each other': Community decisions can 'flatten the curve' of COVID surge, health expert says

As the state sees record-setting new case totals and hospitalizations, local health experts believe people need to act as a community to best fight against COVID-19.

TAMPA, Fla — As Florida sees its highest number of single-day COVID-19 cases and the most people hospitalized with the virus since the pandemic began, local health experts believe the only way to "flatten the curve" of COVID-19 is to act as a community. 

The hospitalizations and increasing cases have come as the new, more transmittable delta variant has spread throughout Florida, and residents have returned to pre-pandemic activities.

“This is going to be a variant that is going to burn through the community unless we try to stop it, together," Doctor Michael Teng, an Associate Dean for USF Health said.

Doctor Teng explained without everyone vaccinated, people need to change their behaviors together. That includes getting a vaccine, wearing a mask and social distancing.

“Public health measures we were using earlier. Masking, physical distancing, sanitation," Teng added.

When it comes to nonpharmaceutical measures, Doctor Teng said everyone needs to once again participate for the benefit of our community's safety.

“It’s not enough to say, okay, we will kind of do the things we did last year. It’s important to do them much more strictly in the face of this more transmissible variant," Teng stressed.

Right now, Florida is setting COVID case records and hospitals are becoming busy. Health experts believe it will take everyone to see cases decrease. 

“We can’t stop it individually. We have to do it as a community because the virus doesn’t care what any of us thinks," Teng stressed.

Federal health data released Saturday showed that Florida reported 21,683 new cases of COVID-19, the state's highest one-day total since the start of the pandemic. 

Florida on Sunday broke a previous record for current hospitalizations, as the number of patients in hospitals because of COVID-19 once again broke through the 10,000-person threshold.

The Sunshine State had 10,207 people hospitalized with confirmed COVID-19 cases, according to data reported to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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