The coronavirus is likely not going away. In fact, it will affect our community even more in the months and seasons down the line.
That is according to Dr. Alina Alonso, director of the Florida Department of Health in Palm Beach County.
She told our news partner, WPTV NewsChannel 5 on Wednesday, “It will come back stronger in November when flu season is here. We’ll have flu, influenza A, influenza B, and the COVID virus all floating around at the same time.”
She added that some of the virus has started shifted from our region to South America, but it will return.
“That was the thought, it’s gonna go away. But it doesn’t always go away completely,” Alonso said. “As long as there’s people to transmit the virus, the virus continues to spread. Especially this virus.”
Calling the virus “stronger” than health officials originally thought, Alonso believes that COVID-19 will become more prominent than it is now when flu season begins in the fall.
That is because all viruses are more commonly found in the northern hemisphere during that part of the year.
“[People] get the flu, they’re gonna think it’s COVID. If they get COVID, they might think it’s the flu. So it’s gonna be tough to get the immunizations for the flu vaccine out right away,” Alonso said.
According to the latest numbers from the Florida Department of Health, there are 18,231 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Palm Beach County, including 569 deaths.
Statewide, there are 223,783 cases as of Wednesday, an increase of 9,989 from the day before.
WATCH INTERVIEW WITH DR. ALONSO:
Dr. Alonso explains that residents need to remain calm and take proper precautions to protect oneself: practice social distancing, wear a mask in public, frequently wash hands, and stay home when sick.
“I don’t think people should be fearful. I think they need to get educated. Stay strong. Stay safe,” Alonso said. There’s no need to fear, you just need to know how to have the right education to know how to handle it.”
She also refuted Gov. Ron DeSantis’ claims from earlier this week that the number of cases is increasing due to more testing.
“Some people say, we’re seeing more virus because we’re testing more,” Alonso said. “That rate should go down the more you do, if you’re getting rid of the virus. If the virus is growing in your community, then it’s going to go up.”
DeSantis admitted on Tuesday that the state’s COVID-19 positivity rate dropped to under 5 percent between the beginning of May and the second week of June, and then increased to nearly 15 percent at one point recently.
“When you look at the positivity, it’s been about 14, 15 percent pretty consistently now for more than a week,” DeSantis said.
As of Wednesday, Palm Beach County’s positivity rate is 10.9 percent.
County officials said this week that the increasing positivity rate is the reason they are not planning to move forward with reopening more parts of the local economy at this time.
“We need to wrap our hands around this and get the numbers down,” Alonso said. “I think we’ve been wise to keep things where we are with Phase One and not go any further.”