Florida Department of Health data indicates COVID-19 new case positivity rates continued to drop last week; however, the Florida Department of Health (FDOH) data does not include the results from home tests.
Florida’s new COVID-19 positivity rate dropped to 8.2%, for the seven-day period ending Feb. 17, compared to 14.3% the previous week, according the FDOH weekly report.
Recent data also shows while those who contract the virus and recover have some immunity for a few months, COVID-19 survivors can get it a second, or even a third time.
Health officials continue to encourage vaccinations for those over age 5 as the most effective protection against serious illness and death from any of the covid variants.
Home tests are available at most pharmacies, with the cost reimbursable through health insurance. Home tests are also available free from the federal government. To request free home tests, go online to COVIDtests.gov or call 1-800-232-0233.
The federal government is also distributing free N-95 masks. Winn-Dixie, Walgreens, Publix, and CVS are participating in the federal government’s mask distribution program. Three masks per person will be given out on a “first come” basis. The masks are not individually wrapped, so customers are advised to bring a bag to carry the masks home in.
As of Feb. 17, COVID-19 has been responsible for 68,901 deaths in Florida, an increase of 1,329 deaths in the past week.
New hospitalizations of covid-positive patients for the week ending Feb. 17, according to the Centers for Disease Control, were:
• Glades County: 0 (same as previous week);
• Hendry County: 1 (compared to 2 previous week);
• Martin County: 67 (compared to 95 previous week);
• Okeechobee County: 14 (compared to 20 previous week);
• Palm Beach County: 162 (compared to 284 previous week).
For most counties around the lake, new case positivity appears to be on the way down. New case positivity for the Feb. 17 report was:
• Glades County – 26.0% compared to 19% last week;
•Hendry County – 7.1% compared to 18.8% last week;
• Martin County – 7.2%, compared to 12.7% last week;
• Okeechobee County – 12.3% compared to 14.6% the previous week;
• Palm Beach County – 6.1% compared to 11.1% the previous week.
New covid cases for the seven day period ending Feb. 17 were:
• Glades County – 20 (compared to 21 previous week);
• Hendry County – 51 (compared to 183 previous week);
• Martin County – 188 (compared to 396 previous week);
• Okeechobee County – 71 (compared to 95 previous week);
• Palm Beach County – 1,840 (compared to 4,874 previous week).
According to the Florida Department of Health, fully vaccinated persons can still be infected with covid, but are more likely to have no symptoms or only mild symptoms and more likely to recover quickly.
Statewide, as of Feb. 10, FDOH reported 74% of Floridians age 5 and older have been vaccinated with at least one dose.
In the counties around Lake Okeechobee, vaccination rates are:
• Glades County – 54%,
• Hendry County – 61%,
• Martin County – 69%,
• Okeechobee County – 51%,
• Palm Beach County – 76%.
For COVID-19 testing sites, go online to https://floridahealthcovid19.gov/testing-sites/
Those who test positive are asked to stay home for at least five days to avoid spreading the virus to others.
COVID-19 vaccinations are free and available at most pharmacies. To find a vaccination site near you, go online to https://floridahealthcovid19.gov/vaccines/