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White House highlights Tampa Bay as top area where COVID-19 is aggressively spreading

The first line for Florida's breakdown says it all: Florida is in the middle of a viral resurgence of COVID-19, but aggressive action now can contain the surge.

TAMPA, Fla. — There are steps to take that will help stop the spread of COVID-19, with many of them laid out in the White House Coronavirus Task Force's weekly update for each state. 

The report is shared with governors across the country. They can share it with the public if they choose to.

Gov. Ron DeSantis' office has not shared the report, but it is available. 10 Tampa Bay's Angelina Salcedo got a copy of the report released on Nov.15.

The first line for Florida's breakdown says it all: Florida is in the middle of a viral resurgence of COVID-19, but aggressive action now can contain the surge.

"Florida is in a red zone for cases, in a yellow zone for percent positivity. Eighty-five percent of Florida counties have moderate to high levels of community transmission," USF Public Health's Dr. Jay Wolfson said.

There are 931,827 cases in Florida as of Nov. 22, and the report shows numbers will continue to grow exponentially over the next few weeks. Wolfson says more community transmission will overwhelm hospitals.

"By January, it's going to be a mess, after Thanksgiving and the Christmas holidays," he said.

Of the top 12 Florida counties where the virus is aggressively spreading, four are in the Tampa Bay area. Hillsborough, Pasco, Pinellas and Polk counties all saw a sharp increase in cases last week.

"What I don't want to see happen with us is waiting way too long to actually take this seriously," said Dr. Jill Roberts with USF Public Health.

The infectious disease expert says the task force laid out mitigation steps:

  • Ensure masks are worn at all times in public
  • Increase proactive and focused testing
  • Increase social distancing indoors by reducing capacity
  • Do not travel

"The consequences, they're just too great. They're too great, especially when we've got all this hope in the background. We've got a Moderna vaccine, we've got our Pfizer vaccine, we're minutes away from more data on the Astrazeneca vaccine," Roberts said. "The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is catching up. So we really truly have an end in sight, you know? 

"We have some hope. This isn't the time to give up."

You can read the full report (starting on page 73) here.

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