With 32 new Covid-19 cases confirmed and reported today by the state Department of Health, Flagler County’s weekly total of 144 so far exceeded last week’s total of 139, with one day to go in the week’s reporting, pointing to a continuing local surge even as numbers statewide appear to be leveling off, though at a perilously high level.
The latest Flagler County residents to test positive, according to the state Department of Health, include girls age 2, 5 and 8 and boys age 8, 9 and 14. Those cases are significant in light of school’s potential reopening in August, as they indicate the susceptibility of children to the diseases, and of children as carriers. In all, 38 Flagler County children 14 or younger have been infected. None have been hospitalized in that age group. But the Department of Health does not disclose if the children are the likely origins of infection in older people, or the possible number of those infections. On Thursday, the Putnam Health Department reported the death of the youngest person from Covid causes in Florida yet: a 9-year-old girl. Three children 14 or younger have died of the disease in the state so far.
Florida today exceeded 400,000 cases since the coronavirus pandemic began in late February and is on pace to surpass New York next week in total number of cases while approaching California’s, where daily case loads have been slightly lower than Florida’s. The Sunshine state added 12,444 cases today, the highest total since July 19, though the seven-day average has fallen to 10,500.
“We seem to be plateauing with Covid in Florida right now, which is a good thing. Flagler County, not as much,” said Stephen Bickel, a physician and the medical director at the Flagler and Volusia health departments, speaking on WNZF’s Free For All Friday this morning. “We’re kind of still creeping up a little, although we’re probably getting to the plateau. So hopefully these measures like mask-wearing and more aggressive vigilance on the part of the community are helping. We still got a way to go here.”
The state reported 135 Covid-19 related deaths today. Since July 1, the disease has claimed 2,118 lives in Florida, or 37 percent of the 5,768 people who have died since March 1. Some 1,350 more people have died of the disease in Florida in less than five months than the entire death toll sustained by the American military in Iraq in a decade of war. Eight Flagler County residents and two non-residents have died in Flagler from the disease, a number expected to change because of the high number of local hospitalizations right now.
As of 3:30 p.m. Friday, there were 22 patients hospitalized with a primary diagnosis of Covid-19 at AdventHealth Palm Coast, according to the state Agency for Health Care Administration, and an overall bed capacity of 12 percent at the local hospital–and 0 percent in the intensive care unit.
Wally de Aquino said the licensed ICU bed capacity of 18 reported to the state agency isn’t the actual number of ICU beds the hospital has been allowed to add during the Covid emergency. “It’s a lot more than that,” de Aquino said. The 18 licensed beds is “the official we have with ACAH. We’re going north of 30,” he said of emergency ICU bed capacity. Some of the patients at the hoispital were transferred from other areas, and vice versa.
“We are treating patients with ventilators, we are treating patients in our ICU,” de Aquino said. “But there is a little bit of good news that we are noticing and we hope that this becomes a trend. We don’t know that it is a trend as of today. But I am happy to report that during this week, at least for the past seven days, we feel that we hit a plateau in terms of the number of hospitalized Covid patients, which is good news, because we had been seeing increases day after day. It would slow down for a few days and then pick up again. But the numbers that we experienced for the past seven days stayed pretty much the same, with not much of an increase, in terms of capacity, to the point where we were able to help out some of our neighboring hospitals in treating some of the patients that got transferred to us.
De Aquino cautioned: “But I am reluctant in saying that this is good news, that we hit a plateau and hopefully we could see the hospitalization numbers decreasing because we don’t want to let the public think that, ok, we beat this, right? We don’t want the wrong impression of this information getting out there. I was looking at the data back on the week of July 5, July 4, we hit a new peak at that point. And then it really decreased from there, only to increase again last week. I would say that the newest peak for us was last week, and this week we are not seeing that increase again. So again there are different peaks out there. I hope that this is a result of a better trend coming in the near future.”
He said the patients are “a little bit younger” than in March and April, but not by much.
The positivity rate, according to the state Department of Health’s numbers, rose to 12.6 percent the first six days of this week, still higher than the 14-day average, though Flagler health department officials have continued to report a significantly lower positivity rate based on a different accounting that includes antigen tests. (The state reported a cumulative total of 456 positive cases and a cumulative total of 9,676 tests as of 14 days ago. It reported a total of 756 cases and 12,406 tests today, a difference of 2,730 tests, 300 of them confirmed positive cases in that time span. Dividing 300 by 2,730 nets the 11 percent positivity rate.)
“We’re testing a lot more people but we’re finding that we’re getting a lot more positives,” including a 14.5 percent positivity rate on Thursday, the local health department’s Gretchen Smith said. But the 14-day positivity rate she reported was 6.9 percent.
Either way, it’s far above the 3 percent threshold health department officials say is relatively safe for some reopening, and well above the 1 percent rate the county had experienced during the May and early June lull.
“The positivity rate doesn’t mean what a lot of people think it means,” Bickel said. “It’s a sign of: are we doing enough testing. The real thing we need to know about in terms of the disease is how many cases are happening or developing.”
For example, if the county had 100 cases in a week while testing 1,000 people, then had another 100 cases the following week while testing 2,000 people, the positivity rate would be cut in half, from 10 to 5 percent. “Are we making progress? Well, we’re making progress in doing enough testing, we’re not necessarily making progress in terms of controlling the infection. So basically the thing that really tells us how we’re doing with the disease is, for the most part, the number of cases, and then of course how serious the cases are, how many are in the hospital, things like that. But there is a slight issue with the testing where, if we’re testing more people we’re going to be picking up more cases because there are people out there we’re picking up who haven’t been tested. It’s useful, but it’s not like a major trend indicator that will tell people, oh, we’re making progress or not. That is really the case number that tells us that. These 30, 40 numbers–they’re not good. They’re the highest we’ve been.”
Flagler recorded a one-day high of 40 cases earlier this week, with its weekly high the sort of numbers that provoke lockdowns in many other countries, yet Flagler and Florida as a whole, following the lead of a largely insouciant governor, continues to avoid any strict measures other than encouraging mask-wearing and socially distancing. Palm Coast, Flagler Beach and Bunnell passed mask mandates earlier this month, only to be told by the sheriff that the mandates are not enforceable.
“We’re stuck with this for a while, once these numbers get up this high, it’s hard to get them down quickly,” Bickel said. He spoke of the R value–the number of cases that a single case will lead to. So if one person in the community is infected and the R value is one, the person will give it to one other person, and that second person will give it to one other person, and the rate of transmission will stay the same. If the R value is higher–if it’s 2–then the transmission becomes exponential: the person will pass it to two other people, those two will transmit it to four, the four to eight, and so on. Conversely, if the case load is 100 but the R value has been cut to 0.5, then the next cycle will see 50 cases, and then 25, and so on, though it takes draconian measures to get there.
In the July surge in Florida, the R value got as high as 1.47, sending case numbers to explosive levels. But since then, the R value has fallen down to just under 1, which is why the numbers in the state have plateaued. But that doesn’t mean the case numbers will fall significantly, only that the numbers of infections will continue to develop at the rate of 9,000, 10,000, or 11,000 cases a day, as they have.
“That’s why we keep pushing the mask thing because it’s relatively unintrusive and wouldn’t necessarily require all these business impacts,” Bickel said. “But the problem people may not grasp is that it is very hard to get that R way below 1 without really being aggressive.” The common flu behaves differently, its R value rising seasonally but falling of itself when the weather warms. “I think people were thinking that’s what was going to happen with Covid. But the problem with Covid is that it isn’t that drastically affected by temperature. It’s somewhat affected. And it’s just way more contagious, so that is not happening like it does with the flu, and I think it’s kind of confused people because they think if we just ride this wave out it will go away. But that’s really not true. If we don’t stay really vigilant, we could be at this same case number in Florida, 10,000 a day, for the entire year. The R value stays at 1, the case load does not go up, but stays at this quite high level, and we’re stuck with it. That’s kind of the worst nightmare.”
The Flagler Health Department received $481,000 through a federal Covid-related aid package (the CARES Act), which the department is spending on ramping up the full-time equivalent of 16 individuals (likely to be 40 actual workers by the time part-timers are included) to conduct case investigations and contact tracing. “$481,000 we have to spend by the end of December, Dec. 31, that’s the money we’ve already received,” Bob Snyder the health department chief, said.
The department is currently tracing 500 cases that are either positive or in close contact to positive cases. The department is about to create a call center for its tracers, occupying the second floor of the county’s building at 120 Airport Road, at the county airport (the same building where the county’s tourism bureau is located), with some of that CARES Act money used to pay rent to the county.
The picture is not brightening in the rest of the nation. On Thursday, the nation saw 70,000 new cases, a 24 percent increase over 14 days, with 1,116 deaths Thursday alone, for a total death toll nearing 150,000.
We shall how this plays out but almost none of the schools have received the resources needed to properly do openings . In addition , there’s not much discussion about teachers where latest estimates are 25% are in age groups of most at risk .
BIDEN my time says
Trump: “You see how well children seem to do. It’s incredible. We realize how strong children are, right?”
Trump, idiotically, again: “It affects older people. It infects – if you have any problem – heart, diabetes, even a little weak heart, a little diabetes, a little – this thing is vicious, and it can take you out, and it can take you out very strongly. But children do very well.”
Go inhale that clorox folks.. maybe pop hydroxychloroquine pills, too. The big man is clearly, clearly, in charge. Clearly, kids are not affected as it’s true – he tells us so. #Staterunmedia; #Dumptrump – #Go_find_a_hugely_powerful_beautiful_tanning_bed folks!! Where is Mike Pence with the 15 days to slow the spread cards??? I miss that. :-/
Trump: “…So, supposedly we hit the body with a tremendous, whether it’s ultraviolet or just very powerful light, and I think you said that hasn’t been checked, but you’re going to test it. And then I said supposing you brought the light inside the body, which you can do either through the skin or in some other way. (To Bryan) And I think you said you’re going to test that, too. Sounds interesting, right?”
“And then I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in one minute. And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning, because you see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs, so it’d be interesting to check that, so that you’re going to have to use medical doctors with, but it sounds interesting to me. So, we’ll see, but the whole concept of the light, the way it kills it in one minute. That’s pretty powerful.”
You can suck in ultra high def UV clorox light.. me.. just BIDEN MY TIME. Nuff said. November cannot come fast enough.
What is the total number of deaths and ages of the deceased to date due to COVID-19 in Flagler County?
Ten in all: The Flagler residents were three women, ages 72, 68 and 84, and five men, ages 77, 80, 50, 83, 83 and 92. The two non-residents who died in Flagler were a 50-year-old woman and a 73-year-old man. Earlier this month there’d been confusion about a possible third non-resident. The local health department did not have that listed, as the state briefly had.
Willy Boy says
With 65+ at 31.53%, and 50+totaling 52.76% of the population, I can understand the rest of the folks not be quite so concerned.
Michael Bolchunas says
My grandfather is 85 in hospice care now maybe got a day or two to go… Because 85 is old and time to die naturally… So you’re admitting that all of Flagler cases are old people whose time to die was around the corner… So let’s be honest ZERO covid cases in Flagler… 30 empty ICU beds… Where is the pandemic people?
We better hurry up and open the schools. That will make the Covid cases go back down…
Testing more and getting more positivity. WOW, what a novel concept. Should have been doing that from the beginning HOWEVER the country was unprepared to accomplish that due to OLD technology testing with very poor failure rates.
Sad Times says
Well…as I approach the age of eighty…I’m encountering a lot of stupidity that seems responsible for so much bungling of the Coronavirus. It seems to come down to stupidity…because it is obvious that many, many citizens are incapable of understanding the data that the medical professionals and scientists have been providing.
Just think….if we had a national plan ….our state…and our country…would be in a position similar to that of , say, Hong Kong…hence, better able to open schools, etc. Thanks to the president…we aren’t.
I have seen many parents for the past MONTHS going out in grocery stores with no masks on. Matter of fact a family of 5. I cant understand why all these months in quarentine you would not take precautions especially when it comes to your k8ds. Now more children are being infected. What is it goong to take for people to take heed to the precautions.
Fyi.. there are 2 that are seniors this year that tested positive this week… that makes them older then 14…. just thought people should know. Too many kids are getting sick right now.
You’ve got to read this and really think about it and take it all in.
Instead of doing all he can to keep us alive and well, trump has sent his “goons” into Portland, Oregon AGAINST the will of the governor and mayor. Those unidentified, unwanted, militarized to the hilt, forces trampled on first amendment rights by actually inflaming the situation further while using brute force without cause and arbitrarily tossing protesters into “unmarked” cars, etc. etc.
But, get this. . . . now that area of Portland is being to used a (expletive deleted) MOVIE SET for a trump campaign video! His blatant disregard for anything or anyone else but his accumulation of more and more power is completely OUTRAGEOUS! Take a good read:
You think that’s bad , I’m a mobile health care practitioner and I just left one of my patients an hour ago who said and I quote “ the demonstrations in Portland & Seattle are due to that N word “ , George Floyd “ .
I am sick to my stomach , I can’t believe my ears that here in 2020 people are still so racist and spewing hate .
Richard Abbott says
Bull. Public safety is the primary responsibility of government. These are not peaceful protests, but rather anarchists aided by local politicians with a political agenda, who will not enforce laws or protect property from destruction. The federal government is required by law to protect federal property. Campaign ads are just reporting what the liberal press either refuses to show or downplays to support their narrative that these are peaceful protests. There will no peace without justice.
YES–Folks!!! It’s ALL Trumps fault!!! Everything is Trumps fault!!! The pandemic is Trumps fault!!! Trump is why the world is in total chaos!!! Trump is why there are Aliens!!! OMG!!! The sky is falling!!!
There was one great Democratic president I voted for who once said, “It’s not what the country can do for you. It’s what YOU can do for the country”. It’s very obvious to me that millions of Americans have forgotten that historic speech including thousands of people in Flagler County.
Absolutely not !
We are not blaming Trump for the pandemic !
We are shocked that he wasn’t smart enough to let the health care experts take the lead , provide national structure & messaging and he could have just stepped in and taken credit for it all .
Let’s not bs the fact that he inherited a growing economy.
However Presidents are tested in times of trouble , times of crisis .
In that , he has failed miserably.
I voted for Reagan , Bush but I cannot dismiss the 19k + lies , the breaking of every emoluments clause , pardoning convicted friends , firing anyone who speaks truth to power .
Country First !
Ignorance is not bliss; it is lethal…
Just posted that Walmart, Home Depot, CVS are not enforcing masking due to their employees being bullied by non maskers.
That’s why we will never get out of this mess . People cannot even unite on our common enemy : the virus .
No wonder we are the pity of the world !