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Current COVID surge in Florida not due to ‘seasonal pattern’ of virus

Doctors say a more contagious variant and waning vaccination rates coupled with lax mitigation measures is driving uptick in cases.

With COVID-19 cases in Florida doubling in the past week and hospitals across the state seeing a steady rise in admissions, Gov. Ron DeSantis has suggested the virus is simply following a seasonal pattern.

“Obviously in July, which I told people months ago, we would see higher prevalence because this is a seasonal virus and this is the seasonal pattern that it follows,” DeSantis said on Monday when asked about the rising case count.

“These things have a pattern; we saw the pattern last summer it’s similar.”

Last summer, just like now, new COVID cases shot up following the Memorial Day and Fourth of July holidays.

THE QUESTION

Are COVID cases surging in Florida because this is the ‘seasonal pattern’ the virus follows?

THE SOURCES

THE ANSWER

No, it’s not because of a ‘seasonal pattern’ that COVID-19 cases are surging again in Florida.

WHAT WE FOUND

There is seasonality of viruses, said Dr. Michael Teng, where they typically spike during the winter months when the weather is colder, and our immunity is lowered.

"We see seasonality with influenza viruses, the coronavirus, the rhinoviruses that also cause the common cold,” he said. "We don’t have seasonality of coronaviruses in the summertime in Florida or anywhere."

"What we're seeing now," he said, "with SARS-CoV-2 is not seasonality."

Why?

"It may eventually become a seasonal virus like the rest of the coronavirus," Teng said. "But we're not at that point until we develop some sort of immunity as a population."

So then what is driving the current uptick in cases?

Dr. Jay Wolfson says it’s a combination of factors that weren’t even in play last summer, starting with the fact that most aren’t masking up or staying home anymore. That coupled with the fast-spreading delta variant and waning vaccination rates is what’s really driving new cases, he said.

“We’re dealing with a strain of the virus which is dozens of times more virulent and more contagious than the last two or three we’ve experienced,” he said. “Combine that with the reservoir of unvaccinated people and it makes it a lot easier for more people to get sick—it’s all behavior-related.”

Florida has become the epicenter of the recent spike. About one in five new cases nationwide are coming from the state.

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