Top Florida Doctor: Coronavirus Situation In FL Is ‘Different Epidemic Than Hit New York’

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis posted a clip to Twitter on Monday of a top doctor in the state explaining during an interview on CNN how the coronavirus outbreak in the Sunshine State is different than the epidemic that hit New York.

Dr. Charles Lockwood, Senior Vice President Of USF Health, told CNN’s John King that the situation in the state is complicated.

“We have had a 5 now 5.4-fold increase in cases since June 10th. We have had about 3-fold increases in hospitalizations and about 2.5-fold increases in deaths,” said Lockwood.

“Each death is terrible, but it is a different epidemic than hit New York,” he underscored. “We have a much younger population being diagnosed and we’re much better prepared. Obviously, we have had three months to prepare, so we do have a lot of surge capacity. When you get those numbers of the ICU they don’t really reflect all the emergency ICU capacity that hospitals have created.”

“For example, Tampa General has 87 additional ventilators available which we haven’t begun to use yet. But the most striking thing is our case fatality rate which has dropped and dropped. It is now to 1.5 percent so that’s cases, deaths over cases,” Lockwood continued. “It’s one of the lowest in the country. And in fact in Tampa, in Hillsborough County, today as of a few minutes ago, it dropped to actually less than 1 percent. We have a case fatality rate less than 1 percent so a lot of that’s reflecting the younger population. Most of the folks that we’re diagnosing are between 15 and 44.”

“Most of the folks in the hospital, in the ICUs, are between 55 and 85. So the other thing is we’re much better able to take care of them in the hospital. We have Remdesivir. We have Dexamethasone; we have Convalescent Plasma Therapy and we do much better job of ventilating,” Lockwood continued. “There are couple of other reasons why I’m not as pessimistic as maybe some folks that you have heard. One is that we seem to have peaked about a week ago in the emergency department visits for COVID-like illnesses and also, for influenza-like illnesses.”

“The other is that our horrible test positive rate which was 20 percent 10 days ago actually was 20 percent even on 7/8, July 8th, has now dropped to about around 11 percent. So that’s trending in the right direction,” Lockwood concluded. “The other thing that is driving the cases is clearly its spread because of the test positive rate. But we did 143,000 tests on Saturday. When the Governor eight weeks ago said that we were going to triple the number of tests done per day in the state from 10,000 to 30,000 a day people thought he was crazy.”

Video and transcript below:

CNN HOST JOHN KING: Hospitals are warning now that their ICU capacity is dangerously running low. Here with me to discuss Florida situation is Dr. Charles Lockwood a Senior Vice President of University of South Florida Health also Dean of the Morsani College of Medicine. Doctor Lockwood, thank you so much for being with us.

I just – when you look at these numbers, 15,000 yesterday, 12,000 plus today, I know we have been told repeatedly by the experts it is not just the case count but you’re starting to see the hospital stress as well. Where is Florida? How big of a problem, crisis? What’s the right word?

DR. CHARLES LOCKWOOD, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT OF USF HEALTH, TAMPA: Yes well, it is complicated. We have had a 5 now 5.4 fold increase in cases since June 10th. We have had about three fold increases in hospitalizations and about 2.5 fold increases in deaths. Each death is terrible but it is a different epidemic than hit New York.

We have a much younger population being diagnosed and we’re much better prepared. Obviously we have had three months to prepare so we do have a lot of surge capacity. When you get those numbers of the ICU they don’t really reflect all the emergency ICU capacity that hospitals have created.

For example, Tampa General has 87 additional ventilators available which we haven’t begun to use yet. But the most striking thing is our case fatality rate which has dropped and dropped. It is now to 1.5 percent so that’s cases, deaths over cases.

It’s one of the lowest in the country and in fact in Tampa, in Hillsborough County, today as of a few minutes ago it dropped to actually less than 1 percent. We have a case fatality rate less than 1 percent so a lot of that’s reflecting the younger population, most of the folks that we’re diagnosing are between 15 and 44.

Most of the folks in the hospital, in the ICUs, are between 55 and 85. So the other thing is we’re much better able to take care of them in the hospital. We have Remdesivir. We have Dexamethasone; we have Convalescent Plasma Therapy and we do much better job of ventilating.

There are couple of other reasons why I’m not as pessimistic as maybe some folks that you have heard. One is that we seem to have peaked about a week ago in the emergency department visits for COVID-like illnesses and also, for influenza-like illnesses.

The other is that our horrible test positive rate which was 20 percent 10 days ago actually was 20 percent even on 7/8, July 8th, has now dropped to about – around 11 percent. So that’s trending in the right direction.

The other thing that is driving the cases is clearly its spread because of the test positive rate. But we did 143,000 tests on Saturday. When the Governor eight weeks ago said that we were going to triple the number of tests done per day in the state from 10,000 to 30,000 a day people thought he was crazy.

We did 143,000 tests on Saturday. So that will drive up cases because we are picking up the pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic cases but we are spreading. There’s no doubt about it. The test positive rate had been at 3 percent at one point and now it’s at, you know, 11 percent.

KING: Well, I certainly hope you’re correct in finding those data point that suggest maybe the worst there is over. At least it is manageable. We’ll keep in touch as it plays out. Dr. Lockwood, very much appreciate your insights today. And more importantly best of luck as you battle this in the days and week ahead sir, thank you.

Up next for us, a source close to the White House Coronavirus Task Force told CNN some schools should delay their reopening the President doesn’t appear to agree with that.

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