The Flagler Health Department today announced three more covid-related deaths in Flagler County: a 73-year-old man who died on Sept. 4, a 73-year-old man who died on Sept. 6, and a 53-year-old man who died on Sept. 7, bringing the total number of Flagler County residents’ covid-related deaths to 19. At least two other non-residents have died in Flagler due to the coronavirus.
Flagler Health Department Chief Bob Snyder revealed the numbers today as part of a larger set of indicators that are yet again dimming the improving outlook of the last few weeks. Flagler is experiencing a renewed and serious spike in positive cases–184 in the last 14 days, with a concurrent spike in positivity. Flagler saw 25 new cases last Thursday, 26 on Friday, 19 on Saturday, 41 on Sunday and 10 on Labor Day. The positivity rate as calculated by the Flagler Health Department is now back up to 7.63 percent, well above what even the local health department had previously considered safe for communal activities, including schools, to operate.
There is a roughly two-week lag between the time cases begin to propagate and the time they begin to show statistically in health department reports. The spike is occurring as the third week of school begins in Flagler, and is in part powered by a spike in cases among children under 17 and in schools.
Between Friday and Tuesday alone, Old Kings Elementary School informed parents there of at least six students and one teacher testing positive, bringing the school’s total to 14–11 students and three staff members, based on a count of letters issued from the school. Two kindergarten classes were quarantined (the children sent or kept home for the next two weeks). See the zipped file of letters here.
The Flagler school district last Friday reported that at least 14 positive cases affected students and staff (three staffers and 11 students), though the total was an undercount: an independent analysis verified by FlaglerLive and based on actual letters issued, citing positive cases, totaled 14 students and four staff members before the district issued its Friday count, and not including two staff members and one student at Imagine School at Town center, or the additional four students and four staff members district-wide added to the tally since Friday.
In all, there have been 28 positive cases in the Flagler County school district through today, the independent analysis shows–eight staffers and 20 students.
The state Health Department’s figures about Flagler infections among children show double the number: On Aug. 25, the day after school reopened in Flagler, the state had reported a cumulative 115 cases among children younger than 18 in the county, with a positivity rate of 13.1 percent. Today (Sept. 8), the state reported 137 cases in that group, or a total of 22 cases. That doesn’t mean the 22 cases are school-related: many children are home-schooled, many parents are keeping children from school, and some children are younger than school-age, though that proportion is not broken down by the state report.
The concern for the local health department is the overall picture, and the enveloping trends.
“For the first time in a while, emergency room visits related to COVID 19 like symptoms [have] also turned upward,” Snyder wrote in an email this afternoon. “This will most likely result in increased hospitalizations for C-19. Most of last week, we noted around eight hospitalizations and yesterday there were 12. Also, the Rt value for the State of Florida has increased slightly to 1.02 from .91 the previous 2-3 weeks.” (The “Rt value” is the infectious rate of the disease: if it’s at 1, it will propagate at current rates. If it’s below 1, new infections will decline. If it’s above 1, new infections will begin increasing exponentially. The Rt value we have followed, however, shows Florida still just under the 1 mark.)
“Despite spikes seen the last 5 days, Flagler had been on a downward trend with the majority of the indicators for several weeks,” Snyder said. “We still have the lowest case rate per capita in the State and 3rd lowest death rate per capita. I am referring to Cases per 10,000 and Deaths per 100,000.”
Snyder is accurate as far as cumulative figures are concerned: Flagler’s numbers since March give it the lowest per-capita rate in Florida. But in the last seven days, Flagler is actually 29th out of 67 counties, with 142 cases per 100,000–a rate that places it ahead of Broward, Palm Beach, Brevard, Pinellas and Sarasota counties. Florida as a whole has the second-highest per capita rate in the nation, though in the last seven days its rate is 16th in the nation.
Snyder is appearing before the Flagler County Commission on Monday in part to report the numbers and the new spike, in part to recognize the efforts of first responders, health care workers and local media “for being instrumental in communicating public health measures and data, governmental entities (e.g. resolutions on mask wearing),” and to thank the community for following mask-wearing rules. “Also, that we are not out of the woods yet as the recent spike has shown, especially with flu season around the corner, not to mention the peak of Hurricane season.”
Snyder’s appearance is also intended to blunt any potential criticism from an obscure but aggressively noisy and notoriously misleading group that calls itself the “Flagler Liberty Coalition.” The group, according to Snyder, has been seeking his removal and that of Dr. Stephen Bickel, the medical director at the Flagler and Volusia health departments and one of the county’s chief architects, with Snyder, of the county’s comparatively successful response to the coronavirus. Bickel and Snyder led the campaign that resulted in Palm Coast, Bunnell and Flagler Beach joining numerous local governments across the state with enactments of mask mandates. The county stopped short of a mandate, approving a resolution recommending the voluntary wearing of masks.
About a week ago a woman who identified herself as Lisa Perkins wrote County Commissioner Charlie Ericksen the following lines: “We demand that you call for an emergency meeting for Snyder and Bickel to be fired immediately. As Flagler County Health Dept Administrator and Medical Director, respectively, they are both spreading fearmongering, recommending continued lockdowns, and masking. All of which promote SICKcare, increased suicide and depressed economic conditions. This can’t go on any longer. Enough
is enough. We will not stand for it. We want them to be replaced with commonsense practitioners that will promote healthcare so our community may thrive.”
Perkins did not identify the “We” of her email, nor did she respond to an email requesting an interview. Several of her statements were false. The County Commission has no authority to fire either Bickel or Snyder, though it ceremoniously ratifies the health department chief’s appointment. Neither Bickel nor Snyder are “recommending continued Lockdowns.” To the contrary: both have said repeatedly that such measures as mask-wearing and social distancing are essential in order to keep the economy open and prevent a return to lockdowns. Bickel has repeatedly called the dichotomy between protecting health or protecting the economy as a false choice. Rather, he says, the only way to protect the economy is to ensure that health guidelines are followed and health departments supported in order to conduct the extensive contact tracing necessary to contain outbreaks.
“The more we can do with masks, contact-tracing and rapid testing, the less we’re going to have to rely on lockdowns,” Bickel said today. Of deniers such as those represented by the obscure coalition, Bickel said: “They don’t like people who take this seriously because there’s so much emphasis on minimizing it.” He added: “This is not partisan for me. This is just science.”
Bickel and Snyder have undeniably backed mask mandates, but mask-wearing has been proven through scientific studies to significantly limit the spread of the disease.
Snyder addressed the “coalition” on his Friday appearance on WNZF. “We understand that they are not thrilled about mask wearing at public places, the government office building, the library, and I guess they’re not fond of Dr. Bickel and myself,” Snyder said, “because I guess of what we do and what we encourage in promoting health and safety in our community, and science and evidence-based activities and mask-wearing. Everything we’ve been talking about to keep this virus from spreading and transmitting to others. We’re just doing our jobs there, Flagler Liberty Coalition, and just stay off our backs, will you? We’re health care people trying to make a difference in our community.”
“We’re doing something right everyone,” Snyder said of Flagler’s relatively low incidence of Covid.
Bickel and Snyder appear regularly on Palm Coast’s Wednesday Town Hall on Covid-19, which assembles government and health experts to disseminate the latest information relevant to the city and the county. The town halls have been anchored by Palm Coast Mayor Milissa Holland and have kept data and evidence at a premium.
“Our numbers are demonstrating the fact that our response has been one that our residents have not only appreciated but have supported,” Holland said. “Dr. Bickle is just a wealth of information that he supplies to myself and to others almost daily–information that he reads up on, that he speaks to his colleagues about, that really offers some very current information that has helped us navigate through these challenging times. Both he and Bob have really offered a very steady voice throughout all of these months of going through Covid. It’s been consistent.”
The chance that 14 is like 4 is higher than anything as the false positive rate just in Florida is 60% chance of false positives. But one thing to key in, how could FPC have only 2, BTES has 1, ITMS and MHS 0. That number and I’m calling it is way lower than they’re saying.
No one has appointed Ms Perkins to any position of any authority that would make it appropriate for her to issue such misleading statements, much less the accompanying outrageous demands noted above. If anyone has overstepped legitimate boundaries in order to elect themselves bullies-without-a-badge, it is she and the “Flagler Liberty Coalition.”
Think out loud says
Thank you, Flaglerlive for sharing this information with the people of Flagler county. Also, thank you to Dr Bickel and Mr. Snyder for your transparency in sharing information.
There is no logic involved in non-maskers and whatever other nonsense they spew. It almost seems as though they want to cause an increase in COVID cases.
Why do they show such paranoia about science? Weren’t they born in a hospital? Didn’t they receive prenatal care from an obstetrician when they were pregnant? If they experienced chest pain, numbness down the left arm and shortness of breath, they’d seek care in an ER. What if their child spiked a fever or broke their arm? No Doctors? People, this IS SCIENCE. Medical Science.
Do they imagine in their paranoia that all the Docs, Scientists, Nurses, Journalists etc in the world, went to college and busted their ass to lie for some reason? Were and are all the victims of COVID actors trying to scare them? Inconveniencing them by dying of an airborne, Highly contagious disease? Every single person who believes this is out of their mind and beyond help.
P.S. Journalists job is to hold our public officials accountable. Maybe they think the Press lies because that is what they do on Fox and Breitbart.
God help us all.
Jane Gentile-Youd says
A big hug to'” t
Thank out loud “
All media slants the truth to their liking. Its good for ratings and listeners. Its helps their gloom and doom reporting. Also, if people watch the news the last two days positive covid cases are up ALL OVER the US, not just in sleepy Flagler County. People wear your mask and stop with the large get together’s.
Silent, deadly transmission continues. There will be a vaccine. Like the requirement to Wear your seatbelt when driving, Care about others and cover your nose and mouth in public. Act as if everyone may be actively able to transmit the virus. Lives depend on it.
masked avenger says
Yes, please! How does it hurt you to wear a damn mask?? It hurts others or possibly kills them if you are carrying the virus and or are symptomatic. You can still pass on this virus. I am protecting you, you non-mask wearing bullies, yet you care nothing about me or others wearing masks. Same people who won’t stay six feet away, it’s their right to stand wherever they want. Everyone is afraid to say something to them cause they may shoot you if you do. Do you not care about your parents/grandparents?? Why does our county say well, we SUGGEST a mask when this virus is so contagious? Other countries demand it and their citizens adhere to the rule. Oh yeah, this is the wild west, forgot, need a truck, gun and no mask, then I’m cool like the Orange guy. Oh, but wait, he doesn’t wear a mask, true, but he would never be seen in a truck or camo or hunt or fish, yet why does Flagler create this fake image of a fake president? Just don’t get it. What has he done for these Trump lovers? stocks? they were doing well with last president. And many Trump supporters don’t have stocks and are not wealthy like the Orange Man, so what is it? Oh yeah, being a bully is cool. that’s it… God Bless our country when these folks’ children grow up, a nation of bullies and liars in the wild west… yikes, scary…
And what the hell is that sign out on 95? I certainly hope our tax dollars didn’t pay to say Flagler is Trump country. Really, with Melania standing next to the Orange guy looking like she cares. Such an embarrassment for our county. Sorry to businesses, but most people will now drive by.
It would be nice to know who is Lisa Perkins, she is not a registered voter in Flagler County.
What is the Flagler Liberty Coalition, what does it stand for, who is heading it? If no one knows it could be a made up group by a foreign entity just like Lisa Perkins could be a made up foreigner posing as an American.
Snyder and Bickel are doing their jobs, how comforting that we have people like them even if their findings are not so comforting at least we know they are based on science not just propaganda. Thank you to both.
I want to know what the school boards is going to do about all these cases. Schools across the Country are seeing cases. Are you so scared of losing your education money from the government that you would risks children’s lives? This is real not some drama show you watch on TV. I am begging the board to do the right thing. Close the schools back down and go back to what we were doing in March.
Think out loud says …..
It IS all about Science. If you have a Doctor, you must believe in Science!
Only Me says
When it has been proven that masks saves people from the spreading of the virus and yet our Governor with listening to Donald Trump won’t make it mandatory for people to wear masks this virus will continue to spread.
Politicians have no experience in scientific studies and because they continue to make this about politics you will see more innocent people dying. Who wins in the end NO ONE.
We are now at 160,000 deaths and in a short time that number will be well over 200,000. This is what happens when the Oval Office continues to ignore that data that is being reported daily, nor do they seem to care.
Tired of lies says
I am sick and tired of being put down for wearing a mask! I hate wearing it, it’s hot and constricting and hard to hear people talk but I also do not want to get sick. So I wear a mask. And if one more person tells me I’m anti trump for wearing a mask I want to smack them. His lies and mudslinging among other things is why I am anti reality star running our country!
Are there people out there who actually tell you that you are anti-trump for wearing a mask? I’d be like “Damn right I’m anti-trump,” and take it as a compliment. Who are these people? Under what context and conditions are they speaking? I have Never had a single person say a word to me while I’m wearing a mask in public. I do see people with their masks over just their mouths though, but this is mostly due to the fact that they are stupid and want the world to know it.
James M. Mejuto says
re: COVID-19 deaths and spikes:
I don’t know how long it’s going to take the citizens in Flagler County to acknowledge we have
opened our schools and businesses too early.
Why are parents exposing their kids and teenagers to the deadly virus . . . and it is deadly!
Do not listen to the Trumpers who couldn’t care less.
Where is a nation-wide plan by the federal gov’t to control this disease ? There is none!