Flagler County opened its third week of the year with its worst tally of deaths reported in a single day and attributed to covid-19–four, occurring between Jan. 8 and Jan. 12, but confirmed today by the Flagler County Health Department.
Those who died were a 76 year old woman and a 79-year-old man on Jan. 8 (both their races are unknown), an 86-year-old white woman who died on Jan. 10, and a 79-year-old white woman who died on Jan. 12. The locations of their deaths are not yet known. Most deaths have occurred after hospitalizations, either at AdventHealth Palm Coast or at other hospitals in the region.
The tally raises Flagler County’s covid death toll to 57, making it the sixth-leading cause of death in the county, based on 2019 mortality figures. The numbers were reported in a week when Florida’s covid death toll passed the 24,000 mark, and on a day when the United States was set to exceed 400,000 deaths, surpassing the American death toll in all four years of World War II, on all fronts across the globe. The world has lost more than 2 million people to covid so far.
As has become almost ritualistically routine since before Christmas, grimmer reports of covid’s toll are colliding with more hopeful if fitful news. That was the case again today in Flagler.
First, and for the first time in five weeks, it appears that the latest and most severe surge of coronavirus cases has peaked in Flagler. There were 389 confirmed cases in the week ending Saturday, still a staggering number that adds up to more cases in one week than in all first four months of the pandemic combined. But it was down from the 398 cases reported the week before.
“Last week we peaked on January 12, we had 84 cases, then yesterday 29, day before, 22, so it has been on a downward trend the last four days,” Bob Snyder, the local health department’s chief, said today. Hospitalizations may have peaked as well, declining to 31 today, from a high of 35 on Jan. 15 at AdventHealth Palm Coast.
Second, the county’s health department took delivery of 800 new doses of Moderna vaccines this afternoon, its first such delivery in two weeks. Those vaccines are for first doses, and only for people 65 and over and first responders with direct contact with people.
“Yes, yes, we got a shipment about an hour ago,” Snyder said around 3:30 today. “We are very excited about receiving doses that we will distribute tomorrow and Thursday mornings at the Fairgrounds, so off we go.”
A text alert of available appointments was disseminated through the community shortly after 3 p.m. But minutes later, every appointment slot for the vaccines was booked, as was the case in the few previous rounds of vaccine appointments the county made available. Four Publix stores in Flagler began making vaccines available last week, but only 100-odd vaccines are available each day at each store. They are booked very rapidly as well.
The health department is expecting another shipment of vaccines Friday. Those will be reserved for people due their second shot. (The covid vaccine requires two shots to be 95 percent effective, four weeks apart if it’s the Moderna vaccine.)
“We are assured that the second doses are a priority, and we should start receiving our shipment of second doses for those that received their first doses four weeks ago, those shipments should begin to arrive this Friday,” Snyder said. But as with all matters related to the vaccine roll-out, neither the local nor the state health departments are being told ahead of time how many doses they’ll be getting. “I can estimate but I’d rather wait to see what arrives, so we can begin the second dose administration activities.”
The health department is relying on Flagler County’s Emergency Division to coordinate appointments, both for the new batch of 800 first-dose vaccines and for those due their second shot. County emergency has been drawing up a very long list of people seeking vaccines, and people due their second shots. The county will be contacting those due their second shot with a week’s advance notice, Snyder said. Meanwhile, the county is still using Eventbrite to record appointments for first shots, though that system will be phased out.
The state is expected to open a statewide appointment system online. It’s not ready yet. “It is forthcoming, we still need to be trained on it, we’ve been introduced to it,” Snyder said. He expects it to be available in the next three to four weeks. “In the meantime county emergency management will continue to coordinate the appointment scheduling system, and they will pull from their large call-back list of individuals that have notified them online or by phone that they’re interested in getting the first dose. It’s quite a list of people. I don’t know what the total number of people is but it’s in the hundreds. Actually I think it’s in the thousands.”
Lord said there are two lists: those due a second shot, and the “call-back” list of those seeking their first shot. The lists are in flux. But based on his totals this afternoon, Lord said there were over 7,250 people on the callback list. Some 1,700 people received their first shot.
As far as the new batch of 800 vaccines, “we basically split the vaccines between online appointments, incoming phone calls [at 3:15 p.m.] and the callback list,” Lord said.
The call-back list “grows faster than it shrinks,” he said, though some people who are called back do say that they’ve secured a vaccine elsewhere, such as Publix.
Appointment-only vaccination at the county fairgrounds on Sawgrass Road will take place Wednesday and Thursday from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Snyder expects the fitfulness of vaccine availability, and the dearth of it, to change for the better come Wednesday, when Joe Biden is to be inaugurated president. Biden is not proposing anything like a unique plan. He is proposing a plan, which the Trump administration seemed incapable of providing as it relied on the production of a vaccine as an end in itself, rather than on the delivery of vaccines as the measure of success, so that by this week just 12 million doses were administered, out of 31 million that had been shipped, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The Biden plan will mobilize the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) to set up vaccination sites in schools, stadiums and community centers with the aid of National Guards and others. Biden’s goal is to deliver 100 million doses in his first 100 days.
“We’re very hopeful, the Biden administration is going to change things and we’re going to see a floodgate I believe of support, vaccines and supplies,” Snyder said. “We are ready to put these vaccines in people’s arms. I am so hopeful, feel positive, optimistic about the next three months.”
Ok, this was a joke, right??? I followed all the instructions and found out “sold out”. What are we attempting to do???
Curt plander says
The distribution of the vaccine is a joke. How many people that signed up today are not from Flagler county?
Joyce Charney says
Question…..if there were 800 vaccine shots for first doses….how come there were only three time slots scheduled(that’s all that showed up online). Seems an awful lot of shots to fit into three time slots.
Number 8 says
Tried to secure an appointment today at the Publix covid website. It went from “coming soon” to “fully booked” with no opportunity to register. What did they do, give it all to their employees?