Four weeks after the governor lifted all restrictions on restaurants and other businesses, Covid-19 cases are again rising in Flagler County and Florida, mirroring on a smaller scale a surge cascading across the country and sparing few states as officials speak of a third wave of the pandemic on the cusp of the holiday season.
Cases have increased for the third week in a row in Flagler, with some 200 cases in the last two weeks and 53 cases in the last two days, according to the state Department of Health.
County officials have regularly boasted about Flagler’s numbers remaining low, relative to other counties in Florida. But Flagler’s seven-day average has not been that healthy in recent weeks. If, in cumulative numbers, the county had the lowest case-to-population ratio, its recent averages have been a different story. Last week Flagler’s seven-day average placed it 22 counties from the bottom, with the 45th-worst ratio out of 67 counties. As of Thursday, it had risen sharply to 26th-worst, and still rising: the calculation doesn’t include the cases added today.
Unlike the summer surge, when cases struck mostly younger people, keeping the median age of those affected in the 30s and 40s, new cases have been striking somewhat older people, with the median age in the 40s and 50s, raising concerns about a heavier mortality rate in weeks ahead.
“This is something that was talked about just a few months ago, that we’re concerned about the fall months because it’s getting cooler,” Flagler Health Department Chief Bob Snyder said today. “Holiday time, people heading indoors, it’s not the time to let our guard down despite the fact that people may be experiencing covid fatigue. This is not the time to be complacent, it’s just not. We are expecting a third wave, so let’s try to keep it minor.”
Flagler County last week crossed the 2,000-case cumulative total since the beginning of the pandemic, with 2,052 cases, including 15 non-state residents diagnosed locally. The median age of all cases since March has been 49, with a total of 167 hospitalizations and 37 deaths–well above the total of deaths by car crashes or by suicides in any single year in Flagler’s history. Based on last year’s figures, covid-19 is now the seventh leading cause of death in Flagler.
In Florida 16,544 deaths have been attributed so far to the disease. The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation projects that based on current standards–Gov. Ron DeSantis weeks ago lifted all restrictions on businesses in the state–the state’s death toll will reach 29,000 by Feb. 1–higher if mandates ease, lower by 3,000 if masks are worn universally.
Today, the nation set a new single-day record for confirmed coronavirus infections, topping 79,000 as hospitalizations have risen 40 percent in the last month. On Thursday, Florida saw its highest single-day total of new cases, 5,558, since Oct. 11, but the seven-day average has been more telling as it’s moved up steadily since late September, when it went as low as 2,200. It is now 3,300 and rising.
“How long has it been since we opened bars and restaurants?” Dr. Stephen Bickel, the medical director at the Volusia and Flagler health departments, said today, referring to the governor’s lifting all restrictions a month ago. Case numbers always lag a change in restrictions, as they did in June, a month after the governor lifted the lockdown in the state. “There’s a lot more socializing going on. You can’t wear a mask at a restaurant.” There are more birthday parties again, activities between children afterschool, social gatherings among adults: people converge with their masks on, but the masks don;t always stay on and the distancing narrows.
“Across the country what’s clear is that the cold weather is driving people indoors and that’s definitely having an impact,” Bickle said. That’s not yet the case in Florida, but it may be ahead. “The fall might be bad but that might be the last time we have a bad phase of it.”
Nevertheless, on Thursday DeSantis ordered visitation rules at nursing homes and assisted living facilities relaxed, allowing outdoor visitation regardless of whether the facilities have Covid infections. Currently in Flagler, nursing homes and assisted living facilities are largely covid-free after several facilities weathered a wave of infections among patients and staffers over late summer, Snyder said.
Indoor visitation at nursing homes and other facilities will still be tied to Covid infection rates of facility residents and staff members. The state changes will also allow children to visit long-term care residents, with the governor noting during an appearance in Fort Myers that children “aren’t particularly vectors.” If by “vectors” he means that a smaller proportion of children relative to adults has been infected by the coronavirus , the governor is accurate: The American Academy of Pediatrics reports children represent 10.3 percent of all cases reported in 49 in the 49
The changes came less than two weeks before the Nov. 3 general election, when voters will consider candidates — ranging from candidates for president to congressional and legislative seats — through a COVID-19 lens that includes how to balance a return to normalcy with public health and safety. Florida barred visitors to nursing homes and assisted living facilities in the spring to try to prevent spread of the deadly virus. But the DeSantis administration on Sept. 1 issued an executive order authorizing visitation to resume and providing broad guidelines that nursing facilities were required to follow.
While acknowledging the higher infection numbers locally, Snyder said there were more positive signs as well, such as the number of people hospitalized currently with a primary diagnosis of covid-19 at AdventHealth Palm Coast. That total fell to just two patients on Thursday, the lowest number since before the summer surge. “Wally even sent me emojis, clapping, because that is great news,” Snyder said of Wally de Aquino, the chief operating officer at AdventHealth. (The number was up to three this afternoon.) The number of people reporting to the hospital with covid-like symptoms is also trending down for now.
There have been no recent major outbreaks or superspreading activity. “Also on the positive side, the number of cases in our schools, students and staff members including teachers, are low,” Snyder said.
According to the school district’s report for the week ending Thursday, three students tested positive and two staffers did, the cases spread between Buddy Taylor Middle School, Flagler Palm Coast High School, and the district office in Bunnell. There are 12,200 students in the district, not including Imagine School at Town Center, the charter school.
But Snyder cautions about the weeks ahead. “With holiday time, I think it’s good guidance to avoid large crowds, keep holiday gatherings small and be careful,” he said. While the nature of the new cases don;t have a common thread, “it is community spread, it is out there, and our job is to catch it.” He described it as a “roller-coaster surge.”
We never got out of the first wave because of faux leaders like Trump and DeSantis. Learn to live with it? Pfft, Biden said it best when he said people weren’t leaning to live with it they were dying with it. This is another peak in a sustained first wave of infection.
Too many people think masks don’t work or they infringe on your rights. Sorry, wrong on both accounts. It’s a simple piece of f’n cloth no different than a seat belt. Maybe you anti-maskers should abstain from holding pro-life signs until you figure out what exactly it is you care about because it’s not the lives of people around you.
Lisa Keenan says
SORRY but you are wrong. We the PEOPLE care, ALL of the government doesn’t. All they do is bicker, and conplain oh yeah BLAME each other act like 3 year old’s. It’s embarrassing. And while the stalling and contradicting themselves (CONSTANTLY) LIE LEAVE AND GO ON VACATION. While we are getting evicted, living in a car if we have one being homeless on the street, they keep tell us the same thing were this close. By the way were going on A VACATION!!! Really? Are you freaking kidding me, That is so PATHETIC, THEY ALL do NOT have there priorities straight. And what about the children and ALL THE LIVES THAT have lost their lives. In Florida hell DESANTIS opens up when everything is rising wth is he thinking and keeping important information from us. So he helped with the deaths in Florida for LYING!!! NOW he’s doing the same thing. Lying about the numbers lying to us. What did he say OPENING up, Full steam ahead THERE’S NO GOING BACK only foward. He’s a poor excuse for a person. I am proud to be an AMERICAN and I LOVE MY COUNTRY I want it back. I just wish the government would do the RIGHT THING. We needed help 4 months ago you blew us off time and time again now people are STARVING WE NEED HELP LIKE YESTERDAY. It’s not right or fair what their doing to the people. Ok Nancy!!! You to McConnell. Stop stalling and blowing SMOKE & Please stop with the fake smiles. Just do your job the we pay you though our taxes with, and you all are holding us HOSTAGE!!! SHAME ON YOU ALL. Don’t forget Karma always comes back to bite you in the a….. PLEASE don’t torture us anymore
Didn’t the President say “It is what it is”? With 77,000 new cases in teh United States on Thursday, it is no wonder that the case count in Florida and Flagler is on the rise. I am certain that the President is campaigning in The Villages today telling the audience, whom he must believe are senile, that we are turning a corner with the Pandemic. An ostrich buries its head in the sand to hide from danger. Trump and DeSantis have done the same to hide from reality. The reality is that this pandemic, left unchecked, will remain deadly for a long time to come; and, a vaccine in not around the corner like the President would have you believe. Many of the trials are being halted due to problems encountered by the participants. a 26 year old participant in the AstraZeneca recently died.
If the President doesn’t show any concern over the fact that his family contracted Covid, do you think he cares about you?
I spoke with my mother today, in northern ill. All stores require masks before you can inter. Security guards are provided at the door, if for some reason you don’t understand what REQUIRE means?
The grocery stores here are a complete joke.
Its like come on in… spend your cash and get out for the next fool.
Steve Ward says
Its a good thing that We are rounding the Corner and that C19 is under Control. God forbid it wasnt. It will disappear dont worry in the Spring. Its a hoax contrived by the Left to kill my perfect Economy. Dont fear it no geeez it will only kill some Family members maybe. Its a Blessing from God. The People are sick of it COVID Covid Covid learn to live with it. You mean learn to live with Death.
Still no plan no attempt at putting the pieces together to corner this nasty shit. In 4 years I’ve seen enough winging it.
BIDEN/ HARRIS 2020
PS Each to their Own
PSS DeSantis is so out of touch He couldnt find his ass with both hands. Not worth mentioning more
Before long everyone in Fla will have gotten covid and so many more deaths will occur which means a lot of People just don’t seem to care anymore and that includes the out of town types. You see signs on doors MASK REQUIRED, but these people just walk on in and the business does nothing.. NO enforcement,, no worries from these insensitive people. I can’t wait for one of these people get Covid and then see whom they blame.
Spirit in the Sky says
When I die and they lay me to rest
Gonna go to the place that’s the best
When I lay me down to die
Goin’ up to the spirit in the sky
Goin’ up to the spirit in the sky (spirit in the sky)
That’s where I’m gonna go when I die (when I die)
When I die and they lay me to rest
I’m gonna go to the place that’s the best
Well said! Masks save lives!…as expert Dr. Fauci stated.
Open a map of the US.
Plot points where Covid don has had his supper spreader, Ku Klux trump rallies.
There is a correlation between spikes in the virus and his super spreader events.
Point number 1 as the White House.
I’m a moderate and for Trump but since be turned his back on me and only have me gave me an 8 week life line after opening up mid may while only on stage 1, I couldn’t find work that fast and I’m still applying everyday trying to find work. I’m behind on all my bills, can’t rent and I feel like he just turned his back on the American people. I’ve never been on unemployment in my life, always had a job,always paid taxes and that’s all the help I get? Well all I can say is, I’m registered as a republican voter but you can bet I’m not going to vote at all, you turned your back on me then I’m turning my back on you. Furloughed since April, thanks for shutting down the country.
Trailer Bob says
I realize that showing all weeks, going back to April, makes the chart look more exciting, but in reality…all we really need to know to stay in the know is how many have tested positive in the last week. It appears that the virus last around 4 to 8 days, so going back to April is impressive, but not necessary to keep us informed. And, of course, red is the loudest colors that one could’ve used.
I agree hundred percent. Some things can’t be left for the states to decide. Smart governors, with integrity know what to do. Opportunists , like De Santos are sending people to death. So, let’s wear this f…ng masks and protect ourselves. Bars, beaches and parties should not be important now.
Not, that Trump is better than De Santos. That’s why he left the handling of Corona to the governors in the first place.
It doesn’t really matter I think it’s to late. The economy is what is going to be devastating. Especially the mom and pop places. Since a FEW people And the rich can do anything The rest of us,