As we enter the middle of Summer, local experts say COVID-19 is more of a threat now than in recent months.By Casey Albritton

TAMPA, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) – As states across the country, including Florida, see spikes in Coronavirus cases, so is Tampa General Hospital.

Doctors say the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 is climbing quickly.

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Dr. Tom Unnasch, a professor at the University of South Florida College of Public Health, says “We’re at the beginning of another really large wave I think of COVID-19 infections.”

Dr. Jason Wilson, a doctor at Tampa General Hospital says “For the past two to three weeks, we’ve seen a three to four-fold increase in the number of patients being hospitalized.”

As we enter the middle of Summer, local experts say COVID-19 is more of a threat now than in recent months.

“We’ve seen a real relaxation in the social distancing measures that we’ve been doing for the last 15 months or so. In particular we’ve seen a drop down in the amount of mask usage out there,” said Dr. Unnasch.

Dr. Unnasch says the new Delta variant of COVID-19 is spreading quickly.

“Measles and Chickenpox are still more infectious but those are the only two viruses that are out there that are more infectious than this thing,” said Dr. Unnasch.

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Dr. Wilson says he’s seeing the impacts of the Delta variant first-hand.

“If you look over the past week and a half or so, we’ve gone from ten or 12 people in the hospital to over 40 people in the hospital. This represents similar numbers to other hospitals in the state,” said Dr. Wilson.

Both Dr. Wilson and Dr. Unnasch say a big reason for the spread is a decrease in people getting vaccinated.

“In Florida here, we are only seeing around 50% of the total population vaccinated,” said Dr. Unnasch.

“What happens is that the virus evolves, it mutates, it changes, and that’s what we are seeing. We are seeing new variants form because there’s enough of a pool of people who can get infected with the virus,” said Dr. Wilson.

Dr. Unnasch says over the next month and a half, he expects the number of people with COVID-19 to continue to rise.

“For the next six weeks or so it’s probably not a really bad idea to hunker down and particularly wear masks in public places again,” said Dr. Unnasch.

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Both doctors say a large amount of people who are getting the virus are contracting the Delta variant.