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Doctors concerned about COVID-19 variants in Florida

Virus Outbreak Variant
Posted at 3:07 PM, Mar 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-30 16:27:14-04

ST. LUCIE COUNTY, Fla. — As many of us rush to get a COVID-19 vaccine appointment, there are new concerns about spring break triggering another spike in coronavirus cases.

New numbers show the COVID-19 variants are spiking across Florida, and they could go higher.

"Well frankly, it almost drove me crazy," said 80-year-old Robert Catalano.

For weeks, Catalano has struggled to lock in an appointment for the COVID -19 vaccine.

He tried the Palm Beach County Health Department, Publix, you name it, and admits he's not the most tech savvy senior.

"Recently, they opened it up to 50 plus and school teachers and associated personnel and I said I'm never going to get a vaccine," Catalano said.

But thankfully, after much patience and effort, Robert was finally able to get an appointment for this Friday.

And come next week, all adults in Florida will be eligible in the race to vaccinate as many people as possible with cases of coronavirus variants spreading fast through the Sunshine State.

"Are we going to see the Florida variant? That's my big million dollar question," said Dr. Moti Ramgopal, an infectious disease specialist on the Treasure Coast.

He's been watching the numbers released by the CDC showing cases from the virus' variants in Florida have doubled in the past two weeks.

"There's most likely we are headed in the next wave in the next four to six weeks most likely triggered by the spring break," Ramgopal said.

Ramgopal says numbers were trending down, but he's now seeing a slight increase the past few days with patients in their 40s and 50s being hospitalized.

And with the variants more contagious and more resistant to the vaccine, he says doctors need more information.

"How much protection and what that level of protection is and what it looks like we don't know," Ramgopal said.

Florida now has more than 2,300 variant cases, the most in the country.

Ramgopal predicts if we see another wave it won't be as deadly, but everyone needs to remain vigilant.

"It's going to be a significant impact to our lives and our behavior and our social structure," Ramgopal said.

According to the CDC, most of the variant cases in Florida are the U.K. variant, and those numbers are expected to be updated again Tuesday evening.

For the latest COVID-19 variant information in Florida, click here.