The CDC finally confirmed that Tampa Bay is at risk for COVID-19

Federal health officials reported Thursday that Tampa Bay has been officially — and finally — classified as “high” at risk of contracting COVID-19.

Federal guidelines recommend that all residents, regardless of their health status, wear an appropriate mask in public indoor spaces in 10 Florida counties including Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco.

The announcement corrects a mistake that has remained unchanged for about a week – during which Florida recorded more than 64,000 injuries.

Related: How the CDC’s COVID Warning System Failed in Tampa Bay, Florida

The Miami Herald reported on May 19 that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had identified an error on its website that caused three counties in South Florida to appear in “medium” rather than “high” status. The patch appears as a footnote at the bottom of the CDC website.

The Tampa Bay Times reported Monday that the same error also affected Hillsboro, Pinellas and Pasco counties, which have reached the CDC’s threshold for “high” risk but are still considered to be in “medium” condition, according to the federal COVID-19 Alert System. .

CDC data used for this account showed no infections were detected in Tampa Bay from May 13-19. But that wasn’t true: All three counties exceeded the 7-day case rate of 200 infections per 100,000 residents to justify “high” risks, according to state and federal data released May 20.

Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pascoe hit the other mark that set the “high” risk of infection: District hospitals have exceeded 10 hospital admissions for COVID-19 per 100,000 residents.

Related: Tampa Bay has elevated levels of COVID, and masks are recommended indoors

A CDC spokesperson said the agency does not update its alert system daily, but instead once a week every Thursday.

Public health experts have also criticized the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s warning system – revised guidelines were published in February – for its reliance on COVID-19 hospital admissions, which is a late indicator of community transmission. Florida has seen nine straight weeks of spikes in infections, but those infected can get sick days or weeks long enough to need a hospital bed.

University of South Florida epidemiologist Jason Salemi told The Times on Monday that everyone should have worn a proper mask indoors by now, “but we’re waiting a long time for community spread to get very high as we wait for hospitalization the number to turn on (hide recommendation). International) “.

Other counties with “high” levels of COVID-19 are Polk, Sarasota, Alachua, Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe counties. Another 19 counties have “moderate” levels of COVID-19, including Hernando and Manatee counties.

Related: Is this the end of public COVID testing sites in Tampa Bay?

In counties with “moderate” community levels of COVID-19, residents at risk of severe infection are advised to wear a mask in public. High-risk individuals include those with pre-existing conditions, the elderly, and those who have not yet been fully vaccinated.

Residents of both “high” and “medium risk” areas should make sure their vaccinations and boosters are up-to-date, according to CDC guidelines. They should also be tested if they have symptoms of COVID-19.

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How to take the test

Tampa Bay: The Times can help you find free and public COVID-19 testing sites in the Bay Area.

Florida: The Department of Health has a website that lists testing sites in the state. Some information may be out of date.

United StateThe Department of Health and Human Services has a website that can help you find a test site.

• • •

How is the vaccination done?

The COVID-19 vaccine is given to ages 5 and older and the booster vaccines are given to eligible recipients at doctors’ offices, clinics, pharmacies, grocery stores, and public vaccination sites. Many of them allow you to book appointments online. Here’s how to find a location near you:

Find a site: Visit Vacines.gov to find vaccination locations in your zip code.

More help: Call the national COVID-19 vaccination assistance hotline.

phones: 800-232-0233. Help is available in English, Spanish and other languages.

TTY: 888-720-7489

Disability information and access line: Call 888-677-1199 or email DIAL@n4a.org.

• • •

Omicron Variables: Omicron has changed what we know about COVID. Here’s the latest information on how the infectious COVID-19 variant affects masks, vaccines, boosters, and quarantines.

Kids and Vaccines: Do you have questions about your child’s vaccination? Here are some answers.

Booster shots: Confused about which COVID medication you should get? This guide will help.

Booster Questions: Are there side effects? Why do I need it? Here are the answers to your questions.

Elderly protection: Here’s how seniors can stay safe from the virus.

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