As the coronavirus’s delta variant continues to sweep over the country and certain regions like Florida especially, Flagler County recorded 400 covid infections in the week ending Friday, breaking the previous weekly record set in January, and filling hospital beds as never before during the pandemic. The week’s increase represents a 346 percent increase over averages two weeks ago.
Flagler County was recording an average of 57 new cases per day last week, up from a daily average of 35 the week before, and 13 the week before that. Never during the pandemic have cases increased at as rapid a pace. The state Health Department is no longer issuing daily reports on the pandemic, as it did until spring. The Centers for Disease Control is issuing daily reports.
At AdventHealth Palm Coast, last January’s peak in hospitalizations was 32. Last week it was 35.
The numbers of Covid cases and deaths in Florida continue to increase, with an additional 67,413 infections and 358 deaths reported between July 16 and Thursday, according to data published Friday by the CDC.
There were 148 Covid-19 deaths reported to the federal government on Thursday, the highest daily number since June 7, when the state reported 190 fatalities. While the numbers were reported on those days, it is not clear exactly when the deaths occurred.
Thirty-eight percent of the new infections over the seven-day period statewide came on Wednesday and Thursday, when 12,647 and 13,256 cases were reported, respectively.
Florida is seeing a surge in cases and deaths as it grapples with the highly transmissible delta variant of the novel coronavirus and lagging vaccination rates. Hospital officials across the state say beds are filling up with Covid patients, in sharp contrast with most other areas of the country.
“The situation is worrying across northeastern Florida,” The New York TYimes reported Saturday. “The Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville is on track to match or exceed its earlier record. Wolfson Children’s Hospital has its second-highest number of admissions, 45, after reaching 57 in January. About 90 miles south, in Daytona Beach, an AdventHealth hospital, has more Covid-19 patients than ever before. Across the AdventHealth system in Central Florida, the Covid-19 patient load grew by 67 percent over the past week, to 720 from 430.”
The latest federal data show that 48.2 percent of Florida’s population is fully vaccinated — or slightly below the national average of 48.8 percent. Flagler County is hovering around the 50 percent mark (a little more, according to local Health Department figures, but only at 48.5 percent, according to the CDC.)
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Covod-19 “data tracker” is updated daily. The latest numbers include information through Thursday, but they were posted by the federal agency on Friday afternoon,
The Florida Department of Health also issues weekly reports about Covid-19 testing, infections and deaths. The information had been reported daily, but Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration decided in early June that it would publish updated data on a weekly basis.
At the time, DeSantis’ press secretary, Christina Pushaw, told The News Service of Florida that there was no longer a need to publish the information daily.
“Covid-19 cases have significantly decreased over the past year as we have a less than 5 percent positivity rate, and our state is returning to normal, with vaccines widely available throughout Florida,” Pushaw said in a statement June 4.
But the pandemic has worsened in recent weeks. As of Wednesday, Florida’s positivity rate over a seven-day period was 14.64 percent, the highest it’s been since July 31, 2020, when the seven-day positivity rate was 14.66 percent.
Florida is one of 14 states nationwide deemed to have a “high” level of community transmission of the virus. Flagler County’s infection rate places it as the 26th worst-hit county in the state, significantly higher than it had been overall–as the least-affected of the state’s 67 counties.
The coronavirus, which can cause Covid-19, is spread through droplets and particles, including when infected people cough or sneeze. Additionally, people can get the virus on their hands and become infected by touching their eyes, nose or mouth. The virus has a number of strains, but most-prominent currently is the highly viral delta variant.
Because of the timing of reporting and how the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updates its tracker, information on the federal website could differ from what is reported by others, including the Florida Department of Health. Also, Covid counts can be revised as more records are received and processed.
Vaccinations and Covid testing: Given the continued increase in COVID-19 cases in the community, the Flagler County Health Department (DOH-Flagler) will continue its COVID testing and vaccination sites for the upcoming week. Flagler County recorded nearly 400 new cases of Covid in the week ending Friday compared with 240 one week ago. If you have not done so already, please consider getting vaccinated at one of the following locations:
Mondays from 5 to 6PM, Santa Maria Del Mar Catholic Church, 915 N Central Ave, Flagler Beach.
Tuesdays from 4:30 to 6:30PM, Flagler County Health Department, 301 Dr. Carter Blvd, Bunnell.
Wednesdays from 5 to 6PM, First United Methodist Church, 205 N. Pine Street, Bunnell.
Fridays from 9AM to 11AM, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church, 4600 Belle Terre Pkwy, Palm Coast.
NOTE: There will be no COVID testing at the health department on Friday afternoons.
Vaccination appointments are preferred, but walk-ups will be accepted. Please call 386-437-7350 ext. 0 for scheduling or questions. Nearly all pharmacies in Flagler County offer COVID-19 vaccinations and testing, and 12 offer Pfizer, which is approved for individuals ages 12 and over.