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Like so much of South Florida, Wilton Manors is dealing with a surge in COVID infections.

Wilton Manors City Commissioner Chris Caputo is one of the recent cases. He was diagnosed after attending meetings at Wilton Manors City Hall over July 27-28, prompting many of those he came into close contact to get tested and take appropriate precautions.

Despite him and his partner both being fully vaccinated, Caputo found himself with a “breakthrough” case. Now he’s telling SFGN about his experiences over the past few days.

“Finding out I was positive was an emotionally intense experience. First, I experienced great sadness for my partner whose trip to Portugal to see family would have to be postponed. Second, I immediately became concerned about anyone else who he or I might have transmitted COVID too. Lastly, of course, I was worried about what I was in for? How bad would it get?”

It would get pretty bad. Though he feels better now, Caputo says he was sleeping 20 or more hours a day and suffered massive migraines and body aches. He believes it would have been much worse if he hadn’t been vaccinated. “I attribute the vaccine to helping to stave off the more serious complications and conditions which we are seeing occur in hospitalized patients now, like the inability to breathe. I am just so grateful we were vaccinated.”

Once he was diagnosed, Caputo says he called Wilton Manors City Manager Leigh Ann Henderson who told residents and staff about their potential exposure. So far no one in that group has reported testing positive. He can’t say the same for other people he knows. “In July alone, I can name over a dozen individuals who tested positive for COVID. Thankfully, all were vaccinated and therefore all of them avoided the most serious of possible COVID complications. These breakthrough infections like mine are definitely occurring in our community.”

Stemming the tide of new infections is key to getting the pandemic under control again. Caputo says the best way to do that is to follow CDC Guidelines. “They have access to up to the minute data, they have scientists who know how to interpret it, and they are non-partisan in their approach. Right now, CDC guidance is that even vaccinated individuals consider wearing a mask when gathering indoors in areas of high community transmission. South Florida definitely qualifies as an area of high community transmission. It’s important to remember that getting vaccinated doesn’t eliminate your chances of getting COVID, it just greatly diminishes your chances of having a severe or life-threatening outcome.”

The health crisis comes with an inherent political component, and Caputo says the message coming out of Tallahassee, like the executive order essentially forcing Broward schools to overturn their mask policy, isn’t helpful. “Healthy choices shouldn’t be political choices. I am really saddened that the governor is more interested in providing red meat and talking points to his base than protecting our children.”

Increasing vaccinations is key. Half of the American adults are fully vaccinated and 70% have had at least one shot. Caputo believes the vax-hesitant have their reasons and conversations will boost vaccination rates, not shaming. “Anybody can catch COVID, vaccinated, not vaccinated, and we’re all in this together. Let’s remember that and let’s support one another in any way we can.”

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