Admissions at AdventHealth Palm Coast hospitals in central Florida, which had reached record levels in the fourth Covid wave, crested seven days ago, and have been falling each day since–slightly, but visibly.
Covid deaths and school infections are another matter. The Flagler Health Department’s Bob Snyder today reported that as of Monday, covid-related deaths of Flagler residents totaled 164 deaths, an increase of 10 over the week, bringing the total to 50 reported just in the month of August. (The reporting date and the date of death may vary.) Five of the deaths occurred over the weekend.
“All these deaths are of Flagler residents and some reflect folks who succumbed at another hospital out of county, someone who passed in a long term care facility, at home or under the care of hospice,” Snyder wrote in an email.
For Saturday, Sunday and Monday, the school district reported 166 student infections, by far the highest total recorded on any reporting day, bringing the total student infections to 612. The district was on pace to accumulate twice as many infections in its first four weeks as it experienced all of last year. Infections automatically require a quarantine for the student, and also most of those deemed close contacts (those close contacts who are vaccinated or who have had covid in the previous 90 days and show no symptoms are exempt from quarantining).
“I was amazed to hear that just for school based cases, 2,400 close contacts were generated,” Snyder said. So between actual infections and close contacts, a fifth of the district’s 13,000 students have been affected so far. So far this year Belle Terre Elementary has tallied the most infections, with 100, or 10 more than Flagler Palm Coast High School. Children younger than 12 cannot be vaccinated. The district does not have a mask mandate in place, as it did last year.
Infections among district staff have been more controlled, with seven over the weekend and a total of 66 since the beginning of the year, 10 of them at FPC. Infections reported through the school district do not necessarily mean that the infections took place at school.
Reported community infections at large continue to be high, with a record 243 infections confirmed on Aug. 25 alone. Since then, the daily number of confirmations has declined each day: 122, 107, 97, 79.
After reaching 97 hospitalizations at AdventHealth Palm Coast just over a week ago, admissions were down to 77 on Monday–still very high, but a pronounced decline from the worst of the crisis. The decline is prompting an easing of crisis status.
“Although the Covid-19 inpatient census remains high, the AdventHealth Central Florida Division is starting to experience an improved outlook as admissions continue to slow,” Dr. Neil J. Finkler, AdventHealth Central Florida Division’s Chief Clinical Officer, wrote staffers today. “As such, the Central Florida Division will transition to Red Status effective Wednesday, Sept. 1, through, at least, Sunday, Sept. 5.”
Red Status means that there are still limits on non-time-sensitive elective outpatient surgeries, preapproval required for all non-time-sensitive, urgent or non-emergent procedures while outpatient surgery sites and pediatric surgeries continue as scheduled.
The AdventHealth Central Florida Division also changed its visitation procedures for patients nearing death or presenting with special circumstances. Regardless of their Covid-19 status, these patients may have two visitors at a time. Special circumstances may include patients 18 and older who are dependent on family or personal caregiver due to emotional, cognitive, or functional disabilities, and patients without an advance directive for whom family or legally authorized person support is required for discussions regarding complex care planning, the system announced today.
On Monday, a Florida House member, Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, an Orlando Democrat, and the Florida Center for Government Accountability, filed suit against the Florida Department of Health, which has declined to release the sort of detailed statewide and county-by-county covid-related data it used to release until June 4. The Miami Herald today, following up on a report by the Sun_Sentinel earlier this month, reported that the state has also altered the way it reports covid-related deaths in such a way as to mask the severity of the tally: the daily deaths the state is reporting is significantly lower than the actual numbers.
The Flagler Health Department’s vaccination and covid-testing schedule appears below. (Testing hours today are over.)
Health Department’s Covid Testing and Vaccination Schedule and Information for Today Through Labor Day:
Testing has resumed at the Flagler County Fairgrounds (150 Sawgrass Road, Bunnell) weekdays from 8AM to 12 noon and weekends from 9AM to 11AM.
Priority will be given to any students, faculty and school staff of public or private schools in Flagler County, followed by the general public, who need testing appointments by calling 386-437-7350 ext. 0.
All individuals and families should consider the following when testing with DOH-Flagler.
- Testing should take place at least 3 to 5 days after exposure. Testing sooner than this may result in false negatives.
- Plan ahead and expect long lines. Bring snacks and drinks in the car, as well as books or toys to keep kids entertained while waiting for your turn.
- Wear a mask inside the testing facility. Should you test positive, you may be asked to exit the facility and wait for the rest of your party outside to avoid transmission.
- DOH employees and volunteers have been working extended hours to keep pace with the exponential demand for testing and the record-breaking number of positive COVID cases we are experiencing. We are expanding our team to help with testing, contact tracing and case investigation, and appreciate your patience during this challenging time.
- Since it may take some time for case investigators and contact tracers to reach you when/if you or your child tests positive for COVID-19, you should take initiative to protect your loved ones. You or your child will need to isolate for 10 days from the onset of symptoms. Talk with close contacts like family members on your own to ask them to get tested and watch for symptoms.
- If you are identified as a close contact to a person who tests positive, there is a possibility the health department may not connect with you if resources are not available.
- If you have been vaccinated (two weeks after your final dose) you will not need to quarantine if you do not have symptoms.
- If you have symptoms, you should get tested three to five days after exposure.
The weekday testing schedule through September 6 follows:
Wednesday, September 1 8AM to 12 noon Flagler County Fairgrounds
Thursday, September 2 8AM to 12 noon Flagler County Fairgrounds
Friday, September 3 8AM to 12 noon Flagler County Fairgrounds
Sunday, September 5 8AM to 12 noon Flagler County Fairgrounds
Monday, September 6 CLOSED for Labor Day Holiday
As a reminder, the health department does not offer testing for travel verification.
Vaccinations continue to be offered at 301 Dr. Carter Blvd three afternoons a week — Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from 3:30 to 6:00PM well into September. Appointments are preferred; Walk-ins are welcome.
The health department is awaiting additional guidance for the administration of booster doses and expects to add vaccinations to its operation at the Flagler County Fairgrounds next month. Details will be shared when plans are finalized. Currently, CVS, Walgreens, Publix and Walmart offer boosters to immuno-compromised individuals.
For more information about Covid-19 vaccination and testing locally, please visit flagler.floridahealth.gov. For testing and vaccine appointments, please call 386-437-7350 ext. 0 weekdays between 8AM and 4:30PM.
There is a lot of concern/confusion about vaccine effectiveness against the delta variant. How effective are the vaccines against Delta & how to interpret real-world observational data? So much misinformation is being circulated, so this thread brings key data together. 🧵(1/n)
— Muge Cevik (@mugecevik) August 24, 2021