Florida's covid rates continue to increase

CDC advises everyone use surgical or N95 masks in public

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According to the Florida Department of Health Report released, Dec. 30, for the week of Dec. 24-30, covid positivity rates were up, with Florida at 26.5% compared to 13.8% on Dec. 23, and 5.4% Dec. 16.

As of the Dec. 31 report, 71% of Floridians over the age of 5 have been vaccinated.

Florida vaccination rates by age group are:
• 5-11: 15%
•12-19: 58%
• 20-29: 60%
• 30-39: 69%
• 40-49: 77%
• 50-59: 82%
• 60-64: 89%
• 65+: 91%.

Vaccination rates in South Central Florida as of Dec. 31 were:
• Collier County - 75%
• Glades County - 52%
• Hendry County - 57%
• Highlands County - 61%
• Martin County - 68%
• Okeechobee County - 49%
• Palm Beach County - 74%.

New case positivity rates in South Central Florida as of Dec. 31 were:
• Collier County - 23.5% (compared to 10.4% previous week and 3.9% two weeks ago)
• Glades County - 21.6% (compared to 14.2% previous week, and 3.9% two weeks ago)
• Hendry County - 22.2% (compared to 8.1% previous week and 3.1% two weeks ago)
• Highlands County - 20.6% (compared to 6.8% previous week and 3.1% two weeks ago)
• Martin County - 23.4% (compared to 10.9% previous week and 3.8% two weeks ago)
• Okeechobee County - 25.1% (compared to 7.1% previous week and 2.1% two weeks ago)
• Palm Beach County - 30.6 % (compared to 17.1% previous week and 6.5% two weeks ago).

New cases in South Central Florida, for the week of Dec. 10-16 were:
• Collier County - 2,829 (compared to 1,144, previous week)
• Glades County - 23 (compared to 17, previous week)
• Hendry County - 323 (compared to 65, previous week)
• Highlands County - 622 (compared to 140, previous week)
• Martin County - 1,292 (compared to 443, previous week)
• Okeechobee County - 209 (compared to 39, previous week)
• Palm Beach County - 24,488 (compared to 11,860 previous week).

New covid hospitalizations for the week of Dec. 24-31, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), were:
• Collier County: 53
• Glades County: 0
• Hendry County: 4
• Highlands County: 16
• Martin County: 50
• Okeechobee County: 6
• Palm Beach County: 407.

The CDC recommends that:
• Everyone 5 years and older protects themselves by getting fully vaccinated.
• Everyone ages 18 years and over gets a COVID-19 booster dose.
• Teens 16–17 years old who received Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines can get a booster dose.
• Immunocompromised people talk with their healthcare professional about additional primary doses and booster doses following the primary series.*

As of Dec. 30, Florida deaths related to COVID-19 totaled 62,504, an increase of 162 deaths since Dec. 23. Total deaths be age group were:
• Under 16: 31
• 16-29: 438,
• 39-39: 1,155
• 40-49: 2,782
• 50-59: 6,342
• 60-64: 5,154
• 65+: 46,602.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reminds individuals “to take measures to reduce their risk of COVID-19, including proven public health and social measures such as wearing well-fitting masks, hand hygiene, physical distancing, improving ventilation of indoor spaces, avoiding crowded spaces, and getting vaccinated.”

According to the CDC: “Vaccines remain the best public health measure to protect people from COVID-19, slow transmission and reduce the likelihood of new variants emerging. COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalizations, and death. Scientists are currently investigating omicron, including how protected fully vaccinated people will be against infection, hospitalization and death. CDC recommends that everyone 5 years and older protect themselves from COVID-19 by getting fully vaccinated. CDC recommends that everyone ages 18 years and older should get a booster shot at least two months after their initial J&J/Janssen vaccine or six months after completing their primary COVID-19 vaccination series of Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna.”

Masks offer some protection against all variants. CDC continues to recommend wearing a mask in public indoor settings in areas of substantial or high community transmission, regardless of vaccination status. The CDC recommends everyone use three-ply surgical masks or N95 masks, as these are now widely available. Cloth masks offer little protection against the highly contagious omicron variant. (At the start of the pandemic, there was a shortage of surgical masks and N95 masks. At that time, the general public was asked to use cloth face coverings so as not to compete with medical professionals for the scarce supply of surgical and N95 masks.)

The CDC advises self-tests can be used at home or anywhere, are easy to use, and produce rapid results. If your self-test has a positive result, stay home or isolate for 10 days, wear a mask if you have contact with others, and call your healthcare provider. If you have any questions about your self-test result, call your healthcare provider or public health department.

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