Last Updated: 3:41 p.m.
In Flagler, in Florida and elsewhere, it is a tale of two communities: the vaccinated and the unvaccinated. The protected and the slammed, the hospitalized, the dying.
The now-dominant Delta variant of the coronavirus, which is 50 percent more contagious than its predecessor, itself 50 percent more contagious than the original virus, has resulted in the fastest week-over-week surge of covid cases in Flagler, going from 88 cases two weeks ago, 240 cases last week, and 360 cases this week–52 cases per day–according to the Flagler Health Department. Wednesday alone, the Flagler Health Department conducted 75 case investigations. The week ending June 3, there were just five cases a day.
Hospitalizations at AdventHealth Palm Coast and at Advent’s hospital in Daytona Beach are unprecedented. In Palm Coast, hospitalizations for covid broke a record Tuesday, with 32 people hospitalized (and six in intensive care), and broke the record again yesterday, with 37 hospitalizations (the ICU number was not available).
But in as stark a divide as the covid pandemic has provoked, those most gravely affected are almost all unvaccinated. “Across AdventHealth’s 41 hospitals in seven states,” an internal AdventHealth document that circulated this week states, “approximately 95% of 12,700 COVID-19 patients treated this year were unvaccinated or partially vaccinated. Fortunately, the current vaccines appear to ameliorate the severity of the disease, as we have not seen many hospitalizations in the vaccinated population.” The Associated Press reports that nationwide, fewer than 1,200 of more than 107,000 Covid-19 hospitalizations affects the unvaccinated, or about 1.1 percent of the hospitalized.
In an even starker divide, more than 99 percent of the 300 people dying of covid every day are unvaccinated, or were only partially vaccinated–a proportion that applies to all the covid deaths of the last six months. Put another way: The unvaccinated have unleashed a deadly, daily carnage on the unvaccinated.
“Regarding the people who refuse to get vaccinated, my message to them is this,” Bob Snyder, the director of the Flagler Health Department, said this morning. “You do have the right to say no, but it is one thing for you to not get vaccinated to protect yourself. But is another thing to put others in harm’s way. And that can include family members, elderly neighbors, complete strangers that you pass in Publix or at the grocery store who may be unvaccinated like you, but that you unwittingly pass on that virus to others, and then they pass it on to others. And that, to me, I find that to be unconscionable. And I find that to be heartbreaking. That that that is about as brutal and as stern as I would like to get.”
But vaccinations have stalled in Flagler and in the rest of Florida. “We have been at 59 percent of eligible population now vaccinated for the last three weeks , 59 percent of our community, eligible,” Snyder said. But the actual number, population-wide, is 52 percent. “And that that equates to last Friday that equated to 61,632 people. And that hasn’t changed hardly at all. Of course we’re doing some, but it’s nowhere near the volume that we were doing two months ago, in terms of vaccinating people.”
There are no immediate plans in Flagler County or Flagler Beach government to change meeting or event protocols. “Right now no changes. But if this trend continues, then it’s going to have to be a conversation in the future,” William Whitson, the Flagler Beach city manager, said this morning. “Any surge that’s beginning to happen is from the unvaccinated so I would encourage and the city would encourage people to do the right thing now.”
“The City of Palm Coast has not changed any policies or procedures at this time,” a city spokesperson said this morning. “We continue to have a work from home policy that employees can use when appropriate. The 911 Communications Center has re-implemented Covid screening questions for medical fire calls. Our Fire Department has recommended PPE to their first responders since the pandemic began and that is still in place. The Health Department is continuing to recommend that people go and get vaccinated if they haven’t already. We do let employees know that if they wish to receive the vaccine, it is available for free at the health department and all local pharmacies.”
Palm Coast is in the midst of a special election for mayor, culminating on July 27 with in-person voting. Early voting is ongoing until Saturday. “We cannot require voters to wear a mask or face covering, nor could we during the 2020 election cycle,” Elections Supervisor Kaiti Lenhart, who is running the election for the city, said today. “Many of our workers prefer to wear a mask. Others have been vaccinated and have chosen not to wear one. For those who have not been vaccinated, we encourage them to wear a mask or face covering. With only one race on the ballot, the voting process is not taking a very long time. There have been a few waiting to vote when the polls open at 10:00 A.M., otherwise no lines. Voters are not spending much time together in the polling room.”
To those concerned about mingling too closely with others, Lenhart recommends taking advantage of the last days of early voting specifically at the Elections Office in Bunnell (at the Government Services Building, 1769 East Moody Boulevard), where turnout has been lower than at the two other early voting locations.
The school board had not yet responded to questions before this article initially published.
Nor has the local health department proposed any changes, or is aware of any change in course from the school board, which is preparing to reopen schools fully, without remote options (other than the standard virtual school option that was in place before the pandemic). The back-to-school “jam” is scheduled for Aug. 7 at Flagler Palm Coast High School. But, Snyder said, “if you are unvaccinated. You need to reconsider wearing a mask, especially when you’re in indoor congregate settings.”
In the Central Florida region of AdventHealth’s facilities, which include some 20 hospitals and emergency rooms, there were 720 patients hospitalized with Covid, which surpasses the May peak of 500 hospitalized patients. In January, it was 900. ” I will tell you that the the rate of rise is somewhat concerning,” said Dr. Neil Finkler, Chief Clinical Officer for Adventhealth Central Florida Division, in a morning briefing. “We are now seeing about the fastest rate of increase that we have seen during the course of this entire pandemic.
The chance of a patient coming into a CentraCare facility with an illness is one in four that the patient has covid. Just a month ago, it was a 7 percent chance.
Masking is again essential. “Our biggest problem with this virus is asymptomatic spread,” Dr. Tim Hendricks, Senior Medical Director at Adventhealth Centracare, said. “So we see people that have the virus, don’t know they have the virus, and have the potential to spread. So as the numbers rise in the community and there’s a higher rate of transmission our community, it’s best that we all wear masks because even though we’re vaccinated, there still can be some breakthrough cases and there’s still the possibility of transmission. So it’s safest for everybody to wear masks at this time because we know they are highly effective. The evidence shows a mass can stop the transmission of the virus from 70 to 80 percent in terms of effectiveness.”
The AdventHealth system in central Florida is again on yellow status, with elective surgeries limited or deferred, visitation restrictions back in place, and masking requirements even in non-clinical spaces. Outpatient sites, labs pediatric surgeries continue as scheduled. Regarding visitations, patients that do not have covid will be allowed no more than two visitors at a time. Covid-positive patients will be allowed one visitor per day, or two adult caregivers per day if the patient is under 18.
The system’s many hospitals enables it to transfer patients from hospitals that are overrun to hospitals that aren’t, and it has the capacity–in Palm Coast as elsewhere–to convert regular beds into ICU beds, though that has not yet been necessary this time around.
The physicians attribute 85 percent of all covid cases to the Delta variant. “We do see breakthrough cases,” Finkler said, “but the vast majority of people that have been vaccinated and get Covid have mild cases. And rarely do they require hospitalization and even rarer do they ever require intensive care unit stay, and in fact in our facilities today, about 95 percent of all of our inpatient beds for Covid positive patients are in the unvaccinated.”
In Palm Coast, the average age of the patients in the hospital was 67. Today, the average age is 47. “I don’t see any differentiation between African American, white, Hispanic, it’s just in general, the younger population groups have obviously not decided to get vaccinated,” Snyder said. The department is conducting a radio campaign to get more people vaccinated. It will be recording children to encourage younger people to get vaccinated. It’s encouraging the hesitatnt to speak with their primary physician or with Health Department officials “so that we can walk you through it and answer your your questions from data,
evidence based viewpoint, but listen to your concerns.”
What about those breakthrough cases–cases of covid infections in people who are vaccinated? “These vaccines, especially the Moderna and Pfizer, with this, mRNA technology, these protects us all, the majority of us, and that it’s still 95 percent effective,” Snyder said. “Yes we’re seeing breakthrough cases but they are rare, and if there is a breakthrough case, the evidence indicates that people have less severe disease, and they don’t end up in the hospital.”
Locally there is no evidence of a vaccinated person dying. And where there is evidence of it in the United States, it’s almost statistically insignificant: Texas has had 9,000 Covid deaths since February. Only 43 were vaccinated (0.5 percent). The Pfizer vaccine is 88 percent effective against symptomatic cases of the delta variant, the Texas Tribune reports, “and 96% effective against hospitalizations, according to Yale Medicine. Researchers are still studying the efficacy of the Moderna vaccine against the delta variant but believe it may work similarly to Pfizer.” The Johnson and Johnson vaccine is less effective, as are some of the vaccines used in Europe.
“And aren’t we better off getting the vaccine to avoid getting getting sick, getting the Covid disease, ending up in the hospital,” Snyder said. “I mean all you have to do is just look around you, and look at what’s happening, happening nationally, regionally at an every single county in the state. I mean to go from five cases a day to 52 cases a day is just an unbelievable surge, and it should tell us a lot.”
It was “all avoidable, all preventable, all preventable,” Snyder said.
Flagler County Health Department Chief Bob Snyder will discuss the surge on his weekly appearance on Free For All Fridays on WNZF starting a little after 9 a.m. Friday.
The dude says
Cant fix stupid but the Delta C19 Variant can. The “I want my Life back Camp” blathers but does nothing about it. Accuse, Project,Deny,Attack,and whataboutism Go Figure it’s really unbelievable
Have a relative whose an anti vaxxer, for no valid reason I’ve heard.
If a person choses their own downfall that’s their business.
Presume you have it and just don’t come around me blowing, sneezing, breathing that deadly virus.
It was “all avoidable, all preventable, all preventable,” Snyder said.
If we would have closed the borders when Trump wanted….thank Pelosi for calling him crazy and racist
Oh please We are rounding the corner, will disappear this Spring , Its under control etc etc etc Go away trump humper troll
Willy James says
Sorry, I have no sympathy for those folks catching the Covid D variant because they refuse to get vaccinated. And, the worst part is that it is free! I fully understand that some people can’t be vaccinated or are not old enough. But, for the rest of the population, there is no excuse. The evidence that the vaccine works has been established. I do understand that everybody now thinks that the social media outlets and those anals on Fox news are epidemiologists. They are not! Perhaps if somebody like Tucker Carlson dies as a result of COVID it will change some minds. In the meantime, I guess we will blame it on rational ignorance. Stupid is as stupid does.
Could not have said it better myself!
What about all of the people vaccinated who are getting it? It’s like the flu shot- it doesn’t eradicate it. And like the flu, this will probably be around yearly so I predict future shots needed.
David Schaefer says
Totally agree James. My old saying is YOU PLAY STUPID GAMES YOU WIN STUPID PRIZES..
I must have missed it when Fox News told people to not get vaccinated.
You can’t save people from themselves.
If those that choose to go unvaccinated get sick and die , then so be it. That may sound harsh but that’s just the way it is.
Concerned Citizen says
I’m just curious how the first vaccine is supposed to protect against the Delta variant.
It wasn’t known at the time was it? Or was it.
If by the first vaccine you mean either Pfizer or Moderena, those are still considered extremely effective against delta–preventing serious illness–with Pfizer somewhat even more effective than moderna, but the difference is not great and studies are limited. The problem–relativel;y speaking–is the J&J one-shot vaccine, which has been shown to be weaker against the variant. But keep in mind: getting just the first shot of either Pfizer or moderna still leaves patients vulnerable, as do the first two weeks after the second shot of either, since they take time to be completely effective. That’s why hospitalizations still show some vaccinated people with serious illnesses, though the proportion is minimal compared to those unvaccinated. Bottom line: any vaccine at any stage rapidly reduces the incidence of serious illness, including J&J. The more complete the sequence, the more from Pfizer or Moderna, the strongest the immunity. J&J is not a “bad” vaccine, it’s not an “ineffective” vaccine, and if it were rated on the same standard as flu vaccines, it would be right in line with them. But Pfizer and moderna set the near-perfect standard, and in relation to those, J&J is wanting, but still effective.
Concerned Citizen says
Thank you for clearing that up.
I am glad I got vaccinated. Having a wife in the medical field and both of us having elderly parents it was the responsible . I was also greatful for minimal side effects.
But hey let’s all go out in public with no masks or social distancing! People have no brains. STAY HOME. If you can collect unemployment, do so, do not risk the health of our youth when you can be paid to stay home
Concerned Citizen says
Easier said than done.
If you haven’t been following the news there are massive issues with unemployment. Some folks haven’t gotten funds from the first go around.
Some of us work in essential fields and never had the chance to “stay home stay safe”. So we put on our masks and take the proper precautions and just hope to make it thru this pandemic OK.
Yes Florida is denying you basic rights but then again what’s new , you will be able to collect what’s owed when the lawsuits are settled, also if you work as essential worker you have the option to quit and still collect unemployment, it was allowed because of covid, no one was forced to stay in the viruses way. I hope you job didn’t make you feel as if that was the reality.
Marcy McKeefer says
Lol that sounds like such a good idea. Let’s all stay home and get paid. Anytime there’s a virus going home we should shut everything down and stay home and collect free money. But who will pay for it ultimately? And what’s the point of living life if you are always hiding. People need not forget what governments are able to do and always do when they have a fearful population. And don’t trust advent health. At all. Ever.
What do you mean…don’t trust Advent health? What do you know?
The fact more people are getting this virus, to me is a source of great news…as research has shown those who recover get the exact same immunity as those who have been vaccinated, in some cases even stronger. The way things are unfolding now is how it should have all along, let the people decide how to protect themselves(every decision comes with risk) and let heed immunity take over as natural infection immunity has also shown to have the same effect as vaccination against Covid variants as well
The indefensible remark about anyone getting the virus being “great news” aside (it isn’t great news to be ill, to be hospitalized, to have long covid, die, to be left an orphan or widow), the commenter is not providing a complete analysis of the issue. Natural immunity from infection has been shown to provide protection, but research continues to show–and stress–that, as an NIH paper states, “those who’ve had and recovered from a COVID-19 infection still stand to benefit from getting vaccinated,” and–in case anyone has issues with the NIH–as a peer-reviewed study released last week in JAMA states, “After an infection with SARS-CoV-2, most people—even those with mild infections—appear to have some protection against the virus for at least a year, a recent follow-up study of recovered patients published in Nature suggests. What’s more, this and other research demonstrates that vaccinating these individuals substantially enhances their immune response and confers strong resistance against variants of concern, including the B.1.617.2 (delta) variant.”
MR.Herd Mentality errrrr Immunity. Good you can take my place and achieve some form of efficacy your way
Exactly, Flagler county has been “stuck” at 114 deaths since May, Covid took a hiatus for nearly 2-3 months ? Hey these aren’t my numbers, I just interpret them as they are collected & presented. We’re back to being lied to. Covid cases are picking up again as the need for a distraction arises. Covid must pay out quite well, healthcare is all over every opportunity to milk the cash cow. I’d like to see those numbers, what the average Covid payout is by severity. Do they even have defined stages of severity yet, they seem to have that for everything else, like stage 4 cancer & whatever else ?
I would like to know how accurate these stats are. As a health care worker, I do not know any person willing to share whether they are vaccinated or unvaccinated. I thought HIPAA was in play.
Health histories are integral parts of treatment in any hospital or clinic, and are routinely waived by patients–part of that encyclopedia of forms they sign when processed in–so their health care providers may access them.
“Employers have a legal right (to) question whether job candidates are fit for service. Schools can ask bus drivers whether they can see properly with or without corrective lenses. Airlines can ask pilots whether they have a history of seizures. Railroad engineers can be required to take drug tests. Warehouses can ask applicants if they can lift boxes of a certain weight. Firefighters and police officers are required to prove physical fitness. Medical examinations are often attached to such employment. HIPAA does not ban the asking of such questions or the gleaning of such data.”
When anyone gets a vaccination, you have to self identify by providing your name & address. I handed them my drivers license to avoid any back & forth conversation. They know who has been vaccinated & who hasn’t in that database. The CDC card has name & DOB, that’s a Federal/National database. Did you take your 2020 Census ? If you did, they know who lives at your address pretty much, that’s if you didn’t falsify the census, which is a crime.
When you are admitted to the hospital, you provide all this same information, especially if you have a healthcare insurance card. It’s Unaffordable Care Act coverage ? Is it Medicare or Medicaid ? How they get around an ID like DL Number or Social Security Number ? They generate a unique random number and assign it to the real ID number. How many admissions in Flagler County hospital(s) are there on a daily basis ? The facility doesn’t have that many rooms that they wouldn’t be able to query data in a matter of milliseconds to seconds to get anonymous counts as summarized. So the data is only as accurate as the control is on collecting that data. It’s quite accurate considering the volume in Flagler County is less than 50 new cases per day for a rolling 7 day average over the last month. Shared databases & computers make everything we do easy.
Wanna know another way to track & identify you ? Your smartphone has a phone number, everyone has a smartphone. Your phone has a unique IMEID number & GPS tracking to within inches of your phone when the accuracy selected utilizes GPS & wifi triangulation. Our smartphones & data plans are like wearing an ankle monitor for house arrest. That’s one method they are using to determine who was a part of the Washington DC insurrection & inside the Capitol building(s). The hospital wifi detects your phone and records that. They have a very good idea of who was in the hospital at any given moment, because people try to connect to the hospital wifi while their waiting for the doctor visit to end. Everyone was all upset over the debates of micro-chipping people like they do their pets back under Bush. So what was the Government solution, give us smartphones with data plans and charge $ 90/month for that. Make it 5G and build those phones into mini handheld super tablets with storage capability to store your life on. And there you have it, anytime your carrier wants to mine your phone for photos & data, we all self identify that way.
It’s is immoral for any un-vaccinated Healthcare worker to be near a a sick person.
Those words came from a local Dept of Health executive.
I guess you assume I am unvaccinated wrong. Typical! I was not aware being sick is in a hospital is a job interview.
Just The Truth says
This has nothing to do with closing borders. DeSantis promotes tourism from around the world and has not stopped it since this virus continues to spread. He is calling this new out break just seasonal. What planet he is living on? He doesn’t care about the health or lives of the people he is going to expect to vote for him. He wants to be President, you got to be kidding, he can’t even do what is right for the State of Florida because he followers the loser idol Trump’s policy and you saw where that got Trump, (out of office)
DeSantis is a killing off the people he is going to ask to out and vote for him. Why in their right minds would you vote for someone that only cares about themselves.
As someone who cares for patients in this county and who is vaccinated let me shed some light. Let me start off by saying that statistics don’t lie. It is a FACT that people that ARE vaccinated are the minuscule percentage of people acquiring the Delta variant. Sure people will always say AND do what they want. “The vaccine hasn’t been around long enough” “I won’t get COVID because I have no medical conditions” Look at the numbers people! Like I said, the statistics don’t lie. For those that continue to ignore/disbelieve the statistics and don’t get vaccinated, wear your damn mask. Because guess what? Even though I have been vaccinated, I can still get COVID . There is an extreme high probability I won’t be hospitalized and end up on a ventilator waiting for my time on Earth to end, but I just might spread it to you…..and your chances won’t be as great if your not vaccinated. The stats don’t lie. This entire pandemic has been “it will never happen to me”.