Most of Florida is at high risk for COVID-19 according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
According to the CDC the number of daily hospitalizations due to COVID-19 has been increasing nationwide in recent weeks. A new variant, named BA.5, is estimated to account for more than half of the new COVID cases in the U.S.
In a July 15 interview with ABC News, Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical advisor to the White House, said “The good news is that vaccinated and boosted people, particularly those who receive the full component of the boosting, are generally pretty well protected against severe disease.”
While vaccination does not prevent infection, it does greatly reduce the chance of serious illness and death.
He said BA/5 spreads more quickly that some of the earlier variants. Previous covid infections do not appear to protect against the BA/5 variant.
Fauci tested positive for COVID last month and was prescribed two separate courses of the antiviral treatment Paxlovid. He recommended the antiviral drug for those over the age of 65 and those with other health issues that cause them to be immunosuppressed. Paxlovid which was authorized for emergency use by the FDA to treat COVID-19 in December 2021.
Fauci said those at high risk who test positive for covid can take Paxlovid in order to prevent them from progressing to severe disease. The FDA now allows pharmacists to prescribe Paxlovid in order to expand access to the treatment.
As of July 17, in South Florida only Glades and Collier counties are at medium risk, with the rest of the region at high risk.
The CDC recommends those in areas of high risk for COVID-19:
• Wear a mask indoors in public.
• Stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines.
• Get tested if you have symptoms.
• Additional precautions may be needed for people at high risk for severe illness.
Florida Department of Health continues to encourage everyone to be vaccinated against COVID-19. To date, 15.9 million Floridians have been vaccinated, accounting for 72% of those over the age of 6 months.
According to the Florida Department of Health report for July 8-14:
• Glades County had 18 new covid cases and a positivity rate of 20.6%.
• Hendry County had134 new covid cases and a new positivity rate of 16.3%
• Highlands County had 339 new covid cases and a new positivity rate of 24.6%.
• Martin County had 331 new covid cases and a new positivity rate of 21.9%.
• Okeechobee County had 120 new covid cases and a new positivity rate of 22.9%.
• Palm Beach County had 4,533 new covid cases and a new positivity rate of 20.9%.
Since the pandemic began, 76,222 covid-related deaths were reported in Florida, including 50 deaths of children under the age of 16.