Florida has the most variant covid cases in the United States. State health officials say in the two weeks following spring break cases have more than doubled and surpassed 11,800 cases, as of Wednesday.
Officials fear that because “less than one-half of 1 percent of cases are studied for the mutations,” the increase in variant cases they are seeing could be an indication that the spread is accelerating, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported.
According to ABC News, 753 variant cases from three strains were reported on March 14 in Florida. Then on April 15, 5,177 cases from five types of variants were reported. But less than two weeks later, on April 27, the number of cases surged to 9,248 variant infections. And the number of people who’ve died from variants in the state also doubled and now sits at 67.
The Orlando Sentinel received the data on variant spread from the Florida Department of Health but only after they sued the government. A judge agreed with the Sentinel’s claim that the data was vital “to understand how the virus continues to spread and affect Floridians.”
Dr. Aileen Marty, a professor of infectious disease and outbreak response at Florida International University told the Orlando Sentinel that the assumption by some, that “the pandemic is over” is a concern. Last week, Florida’s Republican Governor Ron DeSantis announced he was immediately suspending all local covid-19 restrictions.
“The real problem is that everyone’s acting like the pandemic is over. If we get lackadaisical about it… these variants can overcome some of the immunity that we’ve developed, and we may find ourselves in a very bad situation again,” Marty said, adding, “The most important thing to know is that we need to get more people vaccinated. Any level of protection is better than no level of protection.”