Florida is closing in on 400 monkeypox cases as of Friday, with the largest number of cases in South Florida and other urban settings. Flagler County recorded its first case this week. The United States is nearing 5,000 cases, more than in any country outside of endemic zones.
Flagler County Health Department
In what amounts to the largest health-related private endowment in Flagler County’s history, Dr. Stephen Bickel is pledging to award Flagler Cares, the Palm Coast-based non-profit focused on health and social services for the neediest, $1 million a year, every year, leading to a self-sustaining endowment worth $10 million. Flagler Cares today is launching mold-breaking innovative grants and local health initiatives with the money.
As covid infections from the Omicron-21 variant continue to rise in Flagler County, with significant outbreaks at four nursing homes, Gov. Ron DeSantis and his administration were issuing conflicting statements about ordering vaccines for children under 5. DeSantis and his administration aggressively derided the option on Thursday, then backtracked somewhat on Friday.
Thus far, the number of cases identified in 2022 surpasses the 5-year average of meningococcal disease cases in Florida. Department of Health epidemiologists are investigating each case as well as contacting people with potential or direct exposure to known cases to provide them with information and treatment options.
The 28 positive cases for the week ending today–an average of four a day–is the lowest weekly total since the week of June 20, 2020, and the four-week stretch of cases has also been the lowest since then. Combined with vaccinations and previous infections, the county may be in strong shape even if another variant were to pierce through, the health department director says.
Beverly Beach, which brands itself a “small town with a good heart,” donated $10,000, or 5 percent of its American Rescue Plan allocation, to the Flagler Health Department, with Bob Snyder at the commission meeting to accept the donation Monday evening. The money will be spent on diabetes and other public health initiatives.
Infection numbers are surging across Florida, but in a 50-minute news conference this morning, Gov. Ron DeSantis and Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo not only projected a business-as-usual approach, but said testing protocols will be revised toward less testing, with testing and treatment focused on higher-risk patients, while schools are to remain open and operating under previously relaxed guidelines that de-emphasize quarantines, masking and distancing.
The FDA authorization comes after months of pediatric clinical trial investigation involving about 4,500 children ages 5 to 11. Pfizer released new data on Oct. 22, 2021, stating that its vaccine is almost 91% effective at preventing COVID-19 in that age group, with similar tolerability and antibody responses to that seen in older age groups.
Dr. Stephen Bickel, medical director of the Florida Department of Health in Flagler County (DOH-Flagler) recently renewed his “HIV Specialist” credentials by passing an exam sponsored by the American Academy of HIV Medicine. Dr. Bickel received his initial HIV specialist designation in 2018.
Makenna’s story illustrates the pernicious tenacity of a disease that upends, separates and traumatizes families, cuts off income, creates unspeakable loneliness even for those not hospitalized, and leaves its casualties fuming at a community’s refusal to embrace–beyond thoughts and prayers–the small, effortless measures that could prevent much of the harm to most.