Bay County COVID-19 infection rate increases ahead of Thanksgiving

Coronavirus Pandemic

BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — Ahead of the holidays, COVID-19 is growing once again in Bay County.

According to the Health Department, the testing positivity rate was 20 percent on Sunday, a heavy shift upward from last week’s rates.

“I know we’re all tired of this, we want to move on, but we can’t,” said Bay County Commissioner, Robert Carroll. “The numbers are still going up and we have to continue to do our part.”

County leaders said on Monday that they’ve seen increased demand for testing at their drive-up testing sites.

Local healthcare professionals said the same; Dr. Roman Nation at Nation’s Best Family Healthcare said he didn’t have time for an in person interview on Monday because of the increase of patients at his clinic due to the COVID-19 uptick in the community.

At PanCare, officials said they’ve had to increase patient appointments due to demand, which have filled up quickly. 

It’s unknown whether the increase is out of caution before travel or family gatherings during the holidays, or due to symptoms, but what is known is that the number of those tests coming back positive is also increasing.

“Another one of my friends got it a few weeks ago,” said Panama City resident Julia Haley. 

Like many other residents, she said she’s seen the virus impact her friends and family in numerous ways, from death, to sickness, to lifestyle changes. Ahead of the holidays and family gatherings, she said she’s glad to see so many residents wear masks and take precautions, but that it’s important to stay aware.

“It’s just too much going on and so we want to be cautious at all times,” she said.

Panama City Beach Councilman Paul Casto said until there’s a vaccine available, it’s everyone’s responsibility to do the right thing.

“We’ve got to keep doing our part to stop the spread and flatten the curve,” he said. 

Health professionals and local leaders are strongly encouraging continued mask-wearing, social-distancing and avoiding large crowds.

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