PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — As COVID cases steadily decline across the state, Treasure Coast hospitals are not letting their guard down.
"We haven't really emptied out the hospital but we've plateaued from our peak," said Dr. Michael Bakerman, Chief Medical Officer at Lawnwood Regional Medical Center. "We did see a rise and then a fall, and then a rise and then a fall. Our epidemiologists are still trying to understand all the factors that go into it."
Bakerman said that the winter season will be a test for COVID cases and that masking and vaccination are the best ways to prevent severe COVID cases.
"We know a lot more about the virus now than we did a year ago so in that sense if your question is where are we now versus where we were a year ago, we know the symptoms better, we know the presentation better, we know what medications work," said Bakerman.
This week, Florida reported nearly 26,000 new COVID cases. That's compared with 37,000 cases last week.
Just six weeks ago, a record for weekly cases was recorded with 151,000.
"There are still people that are wearing masks that we see, others that aren't," said Tracey DeRubis, a resident.
Hospitalizations with coronavirus statewide also are way down to 4,240 from a record 17,295 two months ago.
And for the first time since June, the first-time weekly cases positivity rate went below the target 5% at 4.8% with it hitting 20.6% in mid-August. On the Treasure Coast the rates are St. Lucie at 7.8%, Martin at 6.9% and Indian River at 5.4% with Okeechobee 9.0%. Miami-Dade is the lowest in the state at 2.9% though it has the most deaths.
Records show four out of five Florida adults have at least received one vaccine shot.
"I didn't want to get the shot," said DeRubis. "I haven't gotten inoculated. We've been well. Headaches here and there. We have had COVID."
"It's tragic to see people getting infected with an illness that we can prevent," said Bakerman.