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New models show pandemic phasing out of Tampa Bay area by end of summer

"...Very strong social measures coupled with restricted movement is the reason why we are seeing the, the decline in cases," said Dr. Edwin Michael of USF.

TAMPA, Fla. — New models from researchers at USF predict the COVID-19 pandemic will phase out of the Tampa Bay area by the end of summer, but that's if, and only if, people follow key measures until then.

"If we maintain the current social models, and with the vaccination included, this pandemic should end…by August,” said Dr. Edwin Michael of the University of South Florida.

An encouraging prediction, but how reliable is this forecast? 

Mobile data pinpointing non-essential travel, along with scientific calculations used to forecast the pandemic, have been accurate so far, Dr. Michael said.

"The predictions and the cases are in tandem...That gives us some credibility that the model is doing what it's supposed to be doing,” he said.

Dr. Michael has modeled data for world health organization. And, his models say because 30 percent of people in the region area are still under restricted movement, and 66 percent are strong with social distancing and face masks, those measures are working to end the pandemic even faster than vaccines.

"Vaccination is not playing a big role yet, because the roll out is so tiny,” he said.

However, vaccines will matter when it comes to controlling variants and a possible surge in cases, and if the area is to ever achieve herd immunity.

"You have to ramp up vaccines so that you hit 70% of the people,” said Dr. Michael. “Only then you can stop the social measures."

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