Combatting the COVID-19 variant in Florida

Reporter: Nicole Gabe Writer: Joey Pellegrino
Published: Updated:
Drive-thru vaccination site. Credit: WINK News

The fight to stop the novel coronavirus is critical in our state right now. On the Centers for Disease Control variant tracking map, Florida is the first state in the country to hit more than 600 cases. Michigan is next with 421.

Viruses always mutate, but medical professionals say one reason the number is so high is tourism. We’re in high season and seeing lots of people from different parts of the country and from all over the world visit our state.

The b.1.1.7 coronavirus variant was first discovered in the U.K. On New Year’s Eve, the variant was detected in Florida in a Martin County man in his 20s. Dr. Corin DeChirico, chief medical officer for Healthcare Network of Southwest Florida, says the best thing we can do is study the virus, take the necessary precautions like social distancing, wash our hands and get the vaccine when it’s available.

“We are seeing cases go down, we are seeing hospitalizations go down, the more we are able to get vaccines in arms,” DeChirico said. “So I think that the most important thing we can do right now is to study the variant, as I mentioned, for all the things that we need to look at, and we need to continue our mitigation efforts by wearing masks, social distancing, avoiding super spreader events, and hand hygiene and staying home if you’re sick.”

Over the weekend, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine the green light for emergency use. This will help boost the number of shots available to Americans as health officials race to prevent another surge fueled by variants.

“The more people we can get vaccinated, the better. The reason for that is that it will decrease the presence of variants in the community, so it’ll decrease replication of the virus.. That’s what we want to do! We don’t want any of the virus to replicate, because the more it replicates the more there’s a chance of a variant.”

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