TAMPA, Fla — With cases and hospitalizations dropping in Florida, doctors are finally starting to see a way out of the coronavirus pandemic.
"The models are saying that we're past the peak. So that is good, but of course, the elephant in the room is this. This is all predicated by the fact that immunity may be long lasting," Dr. Edwin Michael with USF Public Health said.
The mathematical modeler says the cases have been declining for over a month now.
"The reason that the cases are dropping, is because we have reached very high levels of immunity in the population. If you look at Florida, we are saying, we are almost at 80 percent of people are immune because of vaccines, but more because of naturally acquired immunity from infection," Michael said.
While doctors say immunity from the virus has helped lower COVID numbers, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis credits monoclonal antibody treatments.
"It's going down significantly and we think having the availability of the treatment has made a big difference," DeSantis said on Thursday at a press conference in Fort Lauderdale.
The treatment is effective, preventing at least 70 percent of hospitalizations in those who test positive, but it isn't the sole reason for the decline.
"To Gov. DeSantis' point, of course, monoclonal antibodies helped, but that's only one tool," Dr. Kami Kim with USF Health said.
Kim started the monoclonal antibody program at Tampa General Hospital over a year ago. The treatment has helped but didn't stop the 4th surge of patients they saw.
"It's an important effective treatment, but to decrease the spread, it's not. It's treating the patient. It probably has some impact on spread, but not as big as some of the other things," Kim said.
She talking about masking, social distancing, and vaccines. Doctors are still urging Floridians to get vaccinated to increase the number of people that have immunity to the virus.
"We can't declare victory. We tried doing that in June and that turned out to be a mistake. I don't think that we can go back to hiding in our houses and being in quarantine, but we have to realize that a threat still exists," Kim said.