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“COVID Update – What Do We Know and How Best Can I Stay COVID-Free?” | Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare Chief Integration Officer Dr. Dean Watson, M.D. | July 22, 2021

“I’m not a conspiracy theorist at all, but this thing mutates like a bioweapon.  I mean, it is amazing.”

Dr. Dean Watson, M.D., Vice President and Chief Integration Officer for the Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare System, discusses the new uptake in COVID-19 cases in North Florida and the challenges of treating the Delta variant, before a July 22, 2021 meeting of The Economic Club of Florida.

Show notes

Dr. Dean Watson is an internal medicine specialist who has been leading the charge on COVID-19 treatment and prevention in North Florida in his roles as Chief Integration Officer for both the Tallahassee Memorial Hospital and Capitol Health Plan, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, based in Tallahassee, Florida.  “My life is spent watching people in the hospital suffering and dying,” he said.

Using a PowerPoint presentation (linked below) packed with statistics, Dr. Watson shared what he knows about COVID-19 but explained there is still a lot that medical science doesn’t exactly know or understand about the virus.  He said it presents a unique challenge, especially its current Delta variant.

“This virus is so aggressive and so good at changing, it mutates so well, and we’ve never seen anything like it,” said Dr. Watson.  I’m not a conspiracy theorist at all, but this thing mutates like a bioweapon.  I mean, it is amazing,” he said.

On the day of his address, Tallahassee Memorial Hospital reopened its dedicated COVID-19 wing, due to the surge of recent cases from the Delta variant.  “Of the 30 patients we had this morning, 29 were unvaccinated,” he said, noting that “typically we start to see deaths climb three to four weeks following each increase in the number of cases.”

During the week of July 19, 2021, Florida reported the highest number of new COVID cases in the U.S., with many of them people age 24 and under.  “This is the highest number of people by age group and it’s because they’re unvaccinated,” Dr. Watson told the Club.

Dr. Watson discussed the various testing methods for COVID, warning that antibody and antigen tests are not completely accurate, noting the PCR test is “the gold standard.”  He also shared the list of current treatments, including Dexamethasone and Zinc, which were viewed skeptically in 2020 but have been proven useful since.  “Monoclonal antibody treatment is the only one that works on the Delta variant to date,” he said.

Club members asked questions about the effectiveness of the different vaccines, whether those who recover from COVID have natural immunity, the so-called “Long COVID Syndrome” of those suffering lingering symptoms months on end, and whether masks are truly effective and necessary, especially in children returning to school soon.

“We knew the Delta variant would be here and it’s skyrocketing.  It was no surprise.  We can talk about variants all day.  But until we get people to vaccinate, these conversations aren’t going to stop,” he warned.

Links and Resources Mentioned in this Episode

The Economic Club of Florida podcast, provides an extended platform for discussion to educate, engage, and empower citizens on important economic, political, and social issues. Based in Tallahassee, Florida, the Club has featured distinguished speakers on engaging topics of national importance since 1977. To learn more, including how to become a member, visit or call 850-224-0711 or email [email protected].

Date of recording: 07/22/21