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FAMU health experts warn of winter surge in COVID-19 cases

Posted at 6:42 PM, Oct 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-05 18:42:28-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — While COVID-19 cases in Florida and Leon County shift downward health officials are concerned about a potential rise in cases as the weather starts to drop.

Bragg isn't seeing as many people as it saw in the early parts of the summer, but that doesn't mean we're in the clear.

A fall in temperature could mean a rise in cases.

Since opening in April Bragg Stadium has tested more than 50,000 people for COVID-19.

"We're seeing anywhere from 400 to 500 people per day," said Tanya Tatum.

The site may not be maxing out of tests issued per day anymore, but the workers aren't relaxing yet.

"We're taking it a day at a time but we're anticipating we'll probably see some increased numbers," Tatum said. "The weather is noticeably cooler and we know we're coming into flu season. Because the symptoms for COVID are so widespread and vary, we anticipate there will be more individuals coming."

When the temperature drops FAMU Epidemiologist Perry Brown says coronavirus cases could rise.

"We have known historically that in the late fall, winter, early spring, we see an increase in respiratory infections common cold, influenze,and now we anticipate we are going to see the same thing with COVID-19," said Brown.

The winter surge would mostly stem from habits people have due to the weather.

"People may be congregating because it'll be cold," Brown said. "People may be going into warm venues."

Making sure people are kept apart is still a big concern for the testing site at Bragg.

"We moved into the mobile mini-units to reduce the footprint we have for the testing site," said Tatum.

Once someone gets the call or text to come get tested everything happens at that one pod.

"They're still outside," Tatum said. "On one side they get their paperwork completed and information verified. On the other side the nurse will be the swab."

Both health experts say it's too soon to relax on COVID-19 best practices.

Social distancing, hand washing, and masks are still necessary for good health.

Global Coronavirus Tracker:

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Data from The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.