ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — As coronavirus case numbers continue to climb in Orange County and across Florida, health experts say this increase is concerning but not surprising.

What You Need To Know

  • Doctor says he isn't surprised by rising COVID-19 cases

  • With less social distancing, mask-wearing, increase is inevitable

  • Get complete coronavirus coverage here

Dr. Eric Schrimshaw, Population Health Sciences Chair at UCF College of Medicine, said that Orange County held off high-infection rates initially during the pandemic by rapidly closing businesses and shutting down theme parks.

But now, as businesses and parks reopen and more people venture out, cases will rise as they're seeing now.

“This is one of the highest increases we’ve seen since the early days, and I think it’s probably attributable to the holidays and the relaxation of social distancing, the lack of compliance with mask wearing and large gatherings of people. Our challenges are what to do about it,” said Dr. Marcia Katz, Chief Medical Officer at UCF College of Medicine.

Now, as protests bring out big crowds and people across the region continue to go out without masks, those expected increases are going up further.

“As we continue to engage in less social distancing then it’s inevitably going to have new pockets of infection, and I think we’re already starting to see that, particularly here in Orange County, as well as in Hillsborough and Pinellas County,” Schrimshaw said. ​

Interpreting the Data

Rollins biology Professor Jay Pieczynski says to break down coronavirus data, you have to make sure you understand what the numbers mean and how they’re calculated.

Some are more straightforward than others, and you should raise eyebrows if your community leaders are emphasizing certain data points, while ignoring others.

Pieczynski says the latest Florida coronavirus numbers prove without a doubt, people are starting to take this pandemic less seriously.

Leaders at the local, state, and federal level are pointing to different statistics, so we asked Pieczynski to help break down what the statistics really mean and how to best interpret them.

“The total number of cases tells us that, exactly, the total number of people infected so you can have an idea of how widespread the infection is,” he explained.

But he says the percentage of positive cases gets more complicated.

“You have to ask where are those numbers coming from. Is that the total number of positives over the total number of tests, or is that a total number of people, over the total number of people tested?” Pieczynski said.

He says it’s important to look at the data regardless.

“So when Gov. Desantis, President Trump, or Vice President Pence are quoting numbers, you should really be asking yourself where are those numbers coming from, and how are they generating data, in order to get the full picture of what actually is going on?"

Gov. Ron DeSantis dug into numbers.

“One of the trends you're seeing is that 25 to 35 way more positive tests out of that group than you would've had two months ago,” he said during a Monday press conference.

But Pieczynski says this should not be taken as a positive spin.

“We are most definitely far from the end, and if we can have Gov. DeSantis step in and make some decisions that help mitigate this problem Florida can start opening up faster,” he said.

Pieczynski says what we do in the next 3-4 weeks is going to mold what happens over the course of the next several months.

He also mentioned compared to other countries, Orange County is behind the curve when it comes to continued management of new coronavirus cases.

With the Fourth of July holiday and Disney World reopening just weeks away, health experts are stressing it’s so important that both state and county leaders have a plan to address public health safety.

But equally as important, experts said, is ensuring people put on masks every time they step outside.​

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