Danger from COVID-19 increases with highly contagious delta variant

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More than a year after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, some people can feel reasonably safe resuming their normal lifestyles while others are more at risk than ever.

According to the Centers for the Disease Control, those who are fully vaccinated are reasonably safe going out in public without a mask. 

For the unvaccinated, covid cases, fueled by the highly contagious delta variant, are rising. According to the most recent estimates by the CDC, the COVID-19 delta variant now accounts for about 25% of all new cases.

Nationwide, COVID-19 cases are falling in areas with higher rates of COVID-19 vaccinations, and on the rise in areas with lower vaccination rates.

COVID-19 cases in Florida are on the rise, according to data released Friday by the Florida Department of Health.

The Florida Department of Health (FDOH) no longer that provides daily updates on the number of COVID-19 cases, deaths and hospitalizations by county. Instead, FDOH releases weekly summaries.

For June 25-July, there were 48 new COVID-19 deaths in Florida (compared to 44 the previous week). The FDOH summary does not list where the deaths were. Since the pandemic began 37,985 Floridians have died related to the virus. FDOH no longer provides information about hospitalizations related to COVID-19.

Statewide, 58% of the population over age 12 has been vaccinated. Statewide, new case positivity for June 25-July 1 was 5.2% (compared to 3.8% the previous week).

While vaccines are free and available through most pharmacies, vaccination rates in some South Central Florida counties are well below the national and state averages.

In South Central Florida, for the week of June 25-July 1:

• Collier County: 64% of those over age 12 are vaccinated; 5.8% new positivity rate (compared to 4.5% previous week); 247 new cases for the week;

• Glades County: 41% of those over age 12 vaccinated; 10.0% new positivity rate (compared to 10.9% previous week); 6 new cases for the week;

• Hendry County: 42% of those over age 12 vaccinated; 7.0% new positivity rate (compared to 5.5% last week); 26 new cases for the week;

• Highlands County: 52% of those over age 12 vaccinated; 6.6% new positivity rate (compared to 3.9% last week); 47 new cases for the week;

• Martin County: 59% of persons over age 12 vaccinated; 4.4% new positivity rate (compared to 3.2% last week); 86 new cases for the week;

• Okeechobee County: 37% of persons over age 12 vaccinated; 4.6% new positivity rate (compared to 7.0% last week); 17 new cases for the week;

• Palm Beach County: 62% of persons over age 12 vaccinated; 4.3% new case positivity rate (compared to 3.4% last week); 909 new cases for the 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.

The CDC advises those who have not been vaccinated should wear face masks in public areas where they cannot maintain at least six feel of social distance from others not in their immediate households.

The CDC advises everyone to wash their hands thoroughly and frequently (at least five times a day)  to help prevent the spread of disease (not just covid).

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