Health Department: maintain social distance as peak approaches

Posted at 6:05 PM, Apr 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-16 18:14:00-04

COLLIER COUNTY, Fla. — Researchers say as Florida approaches the coronavirus peak, the number of daily COVID-19 deaths could triple by next month. They say the state's death toll could climb to nearly 5,000 in August. But, it doesn’t have to exceed that if everyone continues to socially distance.

Dr. Paul Simeone, Behavioral Health VP with Lee Health. He calls it physical distancing, rather than social distancing.

“What we know about the human species is that we are very much a social animal, and we don’t do well in any kind of isolation,” said Simeone.

He said it’s natural for humans to get restless after several weeks of obeying Governor Ron DeSantis’s safer at home order. But there are ways to adhere to it while still taking care of yourself.

“What I do everyday, is I go on at least a two to three-mile walk twice a day,” he said.

Scientists said the worst of COVID-19 is ahead of us. The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation projects Florida hitting the deadly peak for COVID-19 on May 6th bringing the average 30-40 daily death rate to about 128.

All the more reason Simeone reiterated continue physical distancing.

“You might get the virus and become symptomatic more quickly, or later in the course of your illness than I would. It’s very difficult to know who has it, and who doesn’t,” he said.

There’s about 1,300 cases in Southwest Florida. About a third of them come from Collier County.

Kristine Hollingsworth with the Collier DOH encourages people to stay the course, maintain your distance and use digital ways to stay social.

“It helps to protect your community, and it helps to protect all of our healthcare providers. It helps to protect those who are most vulnerable,” she said.

Florida has reported 633 COVID-19 deaths as of Thursday. The IHME projected that number could climb to 4,748 by August.