Covid hospitalizations and deaths increase in Florida among the unvaccinated

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COVID-19 infections in Florida nearly doubled last week, with 45,603 new cases July 9-15 (compared to 23,697 the previous week), according to the Florida Department of Health report released July 16.

Low vaccination rates, along with relaxation of restrictions and the spread of the highly contagious covid delta variant have resulted in a surge in covid infections and deaths in Florida.

Florida cases now account for 20% of all new infections in U.S. according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

“This is becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” Centers for Disease Control Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, said at a Friday briefing of the White House COVID-19 Response Team. “Our biggest concern is we are going to continue to see preventable cases, hospitalizations and, sadly, deaths among the unvaccinated.”

Walensky said that unvaccinated people accounted for over 97% of covid hospitalizations last week.

More than 99% of recent deaths were unvaccinated persons, according to infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci.

People are dying needlessly, according to U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy. Last week Murthy issued a warning about vaccine misinformation being spread on social media.

“Health misinformation has cost us lives,” Murthy said at Friday’s White House briefing.

The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S. is becoming “a pandemic of the unvaccinated.’’

All of the South Central Florida counties showed spikes in covid cases last weej,

Florida had a new case positivity rate of 11.5% for the week (compared to 7.8% previous week). Statewide 59% of those over age 12 have been vaccinated.

FDOH releases weekly summaries of vaccination rates and new cases by county.

For July 9-15, there were 59 new COVID-19 deaths in Florida (compared to 32 the previous week). The FDOH summary does not list where the deaths were. Since the pandemic began, 38,388 Floridians have died related to the virus.

While vaccines are free and available through most pharmacies, vaccination rates in some areas continue to stay well below the national and state averages.

In South Central Florida, for the week of July 9-15:

• Collier County: 65% of those over age 12 are vaccinated; 11.2% new positivity rate; 659 new cases for the week (compared to 375 previous week);

• Glades County: 42% of those over age 12 vaccinated; 15.9% new positivity rate; 10 new cases for the week (compared 3 the previous week);

• Hendry County: 43% of those over age 12 vaccinated; 10.0 % new positivity rate; 55 new cases for the week (compared to 31 previous week);

• Highlands County: 52% of those over age 12 vaccinated; 12.4% new positivity rate; 113 new cases for the week (compared to 67 previous week);

• Martin County: 60% of persons over age 12 vaccinated; 16.3 % new positivity rate; 357 new cases for the week (compared to 66 previous week);

• Okeechobee County: 38% of persons over age 12 vaccinated; 10.9% new positivity rate ; 60 new cases for the week (compared to 30 previous week);

• Palm Beach County: 63% of persons over age 12 vaccinated; 9.6% new case positivity rate; 2,483 new cases for the week (compared to 1,378 previous week).

Florida has more than 1,000 vaccine distribution sites for eligible residents. Vaccines are free at all locations. To find COVID-19 testing or vaccination sites, go online to floridahealthcovid19.gov.

According to the Centers for the Disease Control, those who are fully vaccinated can be reasonably safe going out in public without a mask. Masks should be worn indoors by all individuals (age 2 and older) who are not fully vaccinate, the CDC warns. Consistent and correct mask use by people who are not fully vaccinated is especially important indoors and in crowded settings, when physical distancing cannot be maintained.

According to the most recent estimates by the Centers for Disease Control, the COVID-19 delta variant is now the dominant strain in the United States. The delta variant is 60% more contagious than the original strain, according to the World Health Organization.

Nationwide, COVID-19 cases numbers continue to fall in areas with higher rates of COVID-19 vaccinations, and rise in areas with lower vaccination rates.

FDOH no longer releases information on hospitalizations by county,

According to the New York Times as of July 17, 91% of Floridians over the age of 65 have received at least one dose of vaccine and 79% are fully vaccinated.

Hospitalizations per 100,000 population by county reported by the New York Times included:
• Collier County - 7;
• Glades - 11;
• Hendry - 9;
• Highlands - 9;
• Martin - 19;
• Okeechobee - 5;
• Palm Beach - 9.

For counties with less than 100,000 population, these numbers will be higher than the actual number of persons hospitalized. For example, Palm Beach County has 1.3 million residents, so 9 persons per 100,000 would be approximately 117 persons. Glades County has a census population of 13,800 so 11 per 100,000 would be approximately 2 persons. Following the math, this indicates actual covid hospitalizations would be:

• Collier County - 27;
• Glades - 2;
• Hendry - 4;
• Highlands - 9;
• Martin - 31;
• Okeechobee - 2;
• Palm Beach - 117.

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