COVID-19 cases increase in Florida

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For the week of Dec. 10-16, covid positivity rates were up, with Florida at 5.4% compared to 2.5% the previous week.

As of the Dec. 16 report from the Florida Department of Health, 70% of Floridians over the age of 5 have been vaccinated.

Florida vaccination rates by age group are:
• 5-11: 12%
•12-19: 58%
• 20-29: 59%
• 30-39: 68%
• 40-49: 76%
• 50-59: 81%
• 60-64: 88%
• 65+: 90%.

Vaccination rates in South Central Florida, as of Dec. 16 were:
• Collier County - 74%,
• Glades County - 51%,
• Hendry County - 56%,
• Highlands County - 61%,
• Martin County - 67%,
• Okeechobee County - 48%,
• Palm Beach County - 73%.

New case positivity rates in South Central Florida, as of Dec. 16 were:
• Collier County - 3.9%,
• Glades County - 3.9%,
• Hendry County - 3.1%,
• Highlands County - 3.1%,
• Martin County - 3.8%,
• Okeechobee County - 2.1%,
• Palm Beach County - 6.5%

New cases in South Central Florida, for the week of Dec. 10-16 were:
• Collier County - 295,
• Glades County - 3,
• Hendry County - 18,
• Highlands County - 50,
• Martin County - 106,
• Okeechobee County - 8,
• Palm Beach County - 2,445.

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. 16, Florida deaths related to COVID-19 totalled 62,220. Deaths by age group were:
• Under 16: 31,
• 16-29: 439,
• 39-39: 1,150,
• 40-49: 2,768,
• 50-59: 6,317,
• 60-64: 5,125,
• 65+: 46,390.

According to World Health Organization (WHO), it will take weeks to determine how effective the vaccines currently in use will be with the omicron variant. Preliminary testing has shown vaccines are much more effective if a booster dose has been given.

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.”

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) shared the following Frequently Asked Questions:

How easily does Omicron spread?

The Omicron variant likely will spread more easily than the original SARS-CoV-2 virus and how easily omicron spreads compared to delta remains unknown. CDC expects that anyone with omicron infection can spread the virus to others, even if they are vaccinated or don’t have symptoms.

Will omicron cause more severe illness?
More data is needed to know if omicron infections, and especially reinfections and breakthrough infections in people who are fully vaccinated, cause more severe illness or death than infection with other variants.

Will vaccines work against omicron?
Current vaccines are expected to protect against severe illness, hospitalizations, and deaths due to infection with the Omicron variant. However, breakthrough infections in people who are fully vaccinated are likely to occur. With other variants, like delta, vaccines have remained effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalizations, and death. The recent emergence of Omicron further emphasizes the importance of vaccination and boosters.

Will treatments work against omicron?
Scientists are working to determine how well existing treatments for COVID-19 work. Based on the changed genetic make-up of omicron, some treatments are likely to remain effective while others may be less effective.

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. CDC provides advice about masks for people who want to learn more about what type of mask is right for them depending on their circumstances.

Tests can tell you if you are currently infected with COVID-19. Two types of tests are used to test for current infection: nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs) and antigen tests. NAAT and antigen tests can only tell you if you have a current infection. Individuals can use the COVID-19 Viral Testing Tool to help determine what kind of test to seek. Additional tests would be needed to determine if your infection was caused by omicron. 

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.

covid, omicron

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