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'Pandemic Fatigue' Wears On, Says Miami-Dade's New Chief Medical Officer

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
Tom Hudson / WLRN
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

COVID infections keep climbing. More people are in hospitals. Miami-Dade's new chief medical officer, Dr. Peter Paige, points to "pandemic fatigue" and community spread for increases.

The daily COVID-19 infection numbers in South Florida are as high as they’ve been in almost a month and have kept climbing. For several days in a row this past week, Miami-Dade County reported more than 2,000 new infections.

Hospitalizations also are climbing, even as hopes are high that the first vaccine in the United States could begin to be distributed in our region by the middle of this month.

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Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
The Florida Channel
Dr. Peter Paige

"There's a certain amount of what we call 'pandemic fatigue' as it relates to people adhering to the protective measures," said Dr. Peter Paige, Miami-Dade's chief medical officer. The job was created by new Mayor Daniella Levine Cava about two weeks ago.

He is among the heath experts expecting infections to continue to climb.

"Now we're anticipating another increase based on Thanksgiving holiday season with some of the highest travel days that we've seen over the course of this year," Paige said.

His comments came the week Florida reached the milestone of 1 million cases. Despite the trends, Paige did not offer any new recommendations for restrictions aiming to slow the spread of the virus.

New rules are "potentially" necessary, but he deferred to the mayor's office.

Mayor Levine Cava has stuck with the executive orders her predecessor used, such as mask requirements, social distancing and a curfew.

"If businesses are open, we need them to enforce those requirements as it relates to asking [for] social distancing," said Paige. "We're going to get people to stop traveling over the holiday season."

A new public communications effort is expected, focusing on messages to younger adults using social media.

The messages will start showing up in social media feeds the same week an FDA advisory committee is due to decide if the first experimental COVID-19 vaccine will be approved for emergency use.

If it is, Gov. Ron DeSantis has said long-term care residents are the first priority. This week, the Centers for Disease Control Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices advised health care workers and long-term care patients be among the first to receive the two-shot dose.

Jackson Health System in Miami is among the five Florida hospitals expecting to receive the vaccine if it is approved.

"I think that health care workers have to be among the priority," said Paige, who also is the chief physician executive and chief clinical officer at Jackson Health System.

Paige said he plans on getting the vaccine "as soon as it becomes available."
Copyright 2020 WLRN 91.3 FM.

In a journalism career covering news from high global finance to neighborhood infrastructure, Tom Hudson is the Vice President of News and Special Correspondent for WLRN. He hosts and produces the Sunshine Economy and anchors the Florida Roundup in addition to leading the organization's news engagement strategy.