As they’ve been witnessing their hospital overrun with covid patients and their friends and family members struck by the delta variant, Flagler County residents have been getting the message: they’re getting vaccinated in larger numbers again, with last week’s total more than four times that of the week of July 9, when only 338 shots were administered. Last week, almost 1,400 shots were.
The rising numbers of vaccinations are in response to the virulence of the pandemic’s fourth wave, which is targeting younger people, with the unvaccinated comprising the overwhelming majority of those hospitalized. Residents may also be responding to renewed calls from elected officials to get the vaccine–calls that had gone silent for weeks in a combination of indifference and complacency that helped contribute to the severity of the current surge. Florida leads the country in hospitalizations for covid at the moment, and is second only to Louisiana in the rate of infection.
For most of July local elected officials had been inexplicably silent despite soaring covid infections and a local hospital overrun by patients. Local government’s marketing and PR offices have still maintained radio silence on the forth wave, in contrast with previous waves when they were more forthcoming with releases and advisories. But local elected officials for the past two weeks have one after the other spoken up for masking and vaccination, including one–Bunnell Commissioner John Rogers–who had delayed getting a vaccine and gotten terribly ill, but survived to tell the tale. He’s been urging residents to get vaccinated since.
Today, it was Palm Coast Council member Victor Barbosa’s turn. He was back at the dais after a hospitalization for Covid.
“To the vaccine–I wasn’t a big on the vaccine [sic.],” Barbosa said at the end of today’s four-hour workshop. “But when you’re in that hospital, they give you so many antibodies and stuff, you might as well just take the vaccine, and not wind up in the hospital.”
His colleagues welcomed him back, some more effusively–or thankfully–than others: “I’m thankful that Victor is healthy, and thank you for saying that,” Nick Klufas said. “That was big.” Big, because Barbosa had been reputed to be, as he said, not “big” on vaccines, and not too big on masking, either.
Council member Eddie Branquinho, with whom Barbosa has had a running feud, was in a more magnanimous mood today, extending his appreciation for his colleague’s return, with a reminder: “Two people that sat, or sit on this Dias have had bad encounters with Covid,” Branquinho said. “One unfortunately he’s no longer with us, Mr Netts. And the other one we just had, Councilman Barbosa, which thank God is still with us.” Jon Netts died on Jan. 9 after a bout with the illness, and not long after he had yet again served on the council, as a council appointee. “Please get vaccinated if you can, please get vaccinated,” Branquinho continued. “Wear that mask if you can, specially when you’re inside in closed doors. Wash your hands and maintain social distance.”
Everyone on the dais wore a mask at today’s long workshop, including the city attorney and the city manager. There was one exception: Council member Ed Danko. He was also the sole exception at the previous council meeting, when Barbosa’s seat was empty.
Meanwhile the fourth wave has continued to set records in Flagler, with hospitalizations at AdventHealth Palm Coast on Monday reaching 97–86 admitted, 11 in the emergency room, according to Bob Snyder, director of the Flagler County Health Department. Waiting times at AdventHealth’s emergency room reached seven, eight and nine hours this week, though the average wait time was considerably lower. Overwhelmingly, those being admitted have covid.
Students were back in school today in the Flagler County school district, but in compliance with a governor’s order forbidding mask requirements–an order that contradicts safety measures recommended by the Centers for Disease Control, and from the local Health Department chief. Teachers returned to work on Aug. 3. As of Aug. 9, the district had recorded five covid-positive cases among staffers. But when the numbers were updated at 5 p.m. today, the totals for today alone were 11 students, including four at Flagler Palm Coast High School and four at Bunnell Elementary, and three additional staffers, two of them at Belle Terre Elementary.
The Florida Hospital Association surveys its various hospitals periodically about the pandemic, and on Monday, produced the following results obtained today by FlaglerLive. The survey reflects responses from hospitals representing 86.5% of Florida’s acute care hospital beds:
- COVID-19 patients in ICU: 19.9% (slight decrease from last Monday)
- COVID-19 patients on ventilator: 14.1% (steady from last Monday)
- COVID-19 patients transferred from nursing homes/long-term care: 2.6% (steady from last Monday)
- Hospitals expecting critical staffing shortage in next 7 days: 67.9% (increase from last Monday)
- Hospitals expanding into non-care areas in next 7 days: 26.2% (slight decrease from last Monday)
- Hospitals not currently accepting patient transfers from other facilities: 42.5%
- Hospitals reporting their Emergency Department is currently on diversion: 7.2%
- Total Number of Pediatric COVID Patients in ICU: 41
- Total Number of Pediatric COVID Patients on Vents: 10
Two developments suggest the surge may be cresting in Flagler: last Friday when the state published its weekly totals for Flagler, the county had recorded 642 confirmed cases, slightly down from the 665 recorded the week before, but still far ahead of any previous week since the pandemic began in early 2020. Daily totals since have also declined some: There were 109 confirmed cases on Aug. 6, 85 confirmed cases on Aug. 7, and 72 on Aug. 8, keeping in mind that those totals do not reflect rapid testing at home with over-the-counter kits, which were not available in previous waves of the pandemic. The Health Department is encouraging residents to rapid-test at home, but reporting of those results is not high, and the department does not do contact tracing on cases it cannot confirm.
Vaccinations in the county had been proceeding at an anemic pace in June and through the first half of July, alarming public health officials. The fourth wave is a direct result of a lack of vaccinations among the young. But the numbers have improved again. The state’s weekly report is obfuscating the actual number of vaccinations, however. It no longer makes a distinction between first and second doses, so the numbers shown don’t necessarily reflect completed cycles (to be effective, the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines must consist of two shots a few weeks apart. The Johnson and Johnson vaccine, less favored by residents, is a one-shot vaccine.)
The state Health Department is also conflating as “people vaccinated” all those who have received either one or two shots, thus projecting an inaccurate number when it places the percentage of those ages 12 and over who are vaccinated at 63 percent, if it does not include a complete cycle. The rate of fully vaccinated people in the nation as a whole is 50 percent, similar to that of Flagler. It is 59 percent for those 12 and up. (Those younger than 12 are not yet eligible for the vaccine, and therefore more vulnerable to catch the virus, though complications in that age group are extremely rare.)
Here are the totals for the last 10 weeks of first or second shots in Flagler:
Week ending Aug. 5: 1,392
Week ending July 29: 1,289
Week ending July 22: 633
Week ending July 15: 476
Week ending July 8: 338
Week ending July 1: 368
Week ending June 24: 394
Week ending June 17: 412
Week ending June 10: 658
Week ending June 3: 591
The Flagler County Health Department offers two covid testing locations: 120 Airport Road, 2nd floor and 301 Dr. Carter Blvd. in Bunnell. Both locations are open weekdays from 4:30 to 6:30PM. People with covid symptoms should use the drive-through operation at 301 Dr. Carter Blvd and need to schedule an appointment by calling 386-437-7350 ext. 0. Appointments are not necessary for vaccinations, which are offered at 301 Dr. Carter Blvd.
David S. says
I revert back to the old saying ” You play stupid games you win stupid prizes” May this be a lesson to the many anti mask and anti vaccine people out there in Flagler County.
If the government said stick a dildo in you’re ass, a democrat would ask if it needs to go straight in, or sideways…
Deb brogan says
Who raised you? You are an embarrassment! Your vulgarity is a testament to your ignorance and total lack of decorum!
Great comment your lack of intelligence shines right thru. Vulgar
Sounds like something you may benefit from…
Can't take some things back says
It must be difficult for the educated leaders in the health department who have been fighting this virus for well over a year as these leaders in our community have argued against the widely available vaccines. People swayed by foolish jibber have died.
Hmmmm, so they have a cure for the Covid delta variant(s), Barbosa is living proof ?
About time the boneheads of Flagler County wised up, get the vaccine or die.
Seems like to some COVID is fake until they get it. Perhaps Danko should spend some time observing COVID patients in a ICU.
What does it take to make people realize how serious this Virus 🦠 is.
We have had many different viruses and 😷 in my life time. I worked Pediatrics
Years ago. Parents did not argue with the shots the children had to have to protect them and their love ones. Society is heading on a treacherous path.
Thank you Deb Brogan I could not have addressed it any better than you did. The crass obscene language politicized proves that undermining fascism is still alive and well fed by ignorants.
The comment made by Llamo should be deleted from this article. His comment goes way over the line and is far worse than an occasional person a person using a swear word on occasion, Once obscene remarks are made by a person and allowed to remain, that encourages more nasty minded people to join in with their remarks.JMO
Ha! Good one! Laughing all the way to the emergency room…