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Infectious disease doctor says economy reopened 'too soon,' causing coronavirus to spread more

82,719 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Florida, according to health officials
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Posted at 4:49 PM, Jun 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-17 18:55:32-04

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — Younger patients are getting admitted to the hospital for symptoms of the coronavirus, and a local infectious disease specialist says emergency room visits related to COVID-19 are getting overwhelming.

"We’re seeing a wide variety of ages, all the way from 18 to 96 or 97," said Dr. Leslie Diaz.

Diaz feels a recent spike in coronavirus cases is directly related to a quick reopening of the economy.

"It went fast, too soon," said Diaz. "And so what happened is that one patient infects 100, which infects 200, which infects 500. And so it propagates that way."

Diaz said what's also new is that more patients are showing up with gastrointestinal symptoms related to COVID-19.

"It's now mid-June and COVID-19 is still going pretty strong," Diaz said.

"Is that scary to think that in the summer this virus can survive?" WPTV journalist Michelle Quesada asked Diaz.

"Very scary this is," Diaz answered. "This specific point that you just made is the scariest part in my mind."

Dr. Alino Alonso, the health director for Palm Beach County, said they've increased the number of staff members doing contact tracing to try and contain the spread of the virus.

44 employees are contacting COVID-19 positive patients every day, and another 26 employees are being added this week to keep up with the increase in cases.

"We need to enforce a strong and steady social distancing strategy," Alonso said during Tuesday's county commission meeting. "It's critical. At this point, that's the only weapon we have against this virus."