New confirmed coronavirus cases in Flagler County are raging out of control, with weekly case loads shattering previous records for the past three successive weeks, reaching 338 cases last week alone. There were 20 hospitalizations for Covid-19 at Palm Coast’s hospital this morning, matching a high for the pandemic.
There were more new cases in Flagler last week alone–338–than in the first 18 weeks of the pandemic combined, from March to the beginning of July.
Meanwhile, Flagler County Health Department and county officials were overwhelmed Monday by demand from people seeking the Covid-19, crushing demand that is far outpacing supply, filling vaccination appointment slots minutes after they became available and leaving throngs of people dissatisfied, sometimes angry, though health and county officials are not at fault for the debacle: they don’t control the supply of vaccines. Even state officials have been unable to tell Flagler and other counties when they would get their next shipments, and how much they’ll be getting.
Under 1,000 vaccine doses were available, and only for people 65 and over and health workers–not younger people suffering pre-existing conditions, not front-line workers like teachers, not cops or restaurant workers.
DeSantis was asked again today whether teachers would get vaccines among front-line workers, now that the second semester has begun across Florida. “Not at this time,” he said. The CDC, however, ranks teachers among the nation’s 30 million “frontline essential workers” who should be prioritized for vaccines.
“There’s no triage system anywhere, it’s what the governor’s order says, over the age of 65,” Bob Snyder, who heads Flagler County’s Health Department, stressed. The governor’s order has been controversial both for its generality and its neglect of critical groups of people vulnerable to complications from Covid, as well as for going against Centers for Disease Control recommendations. The CDC’s recommendations are more expansive and call for vaccinating front-line workers and people with underlying conditions. “He did not make a distinction among individuals who have co-morbidity or chronic illnesses or are sicker than others. Over the age of 65. We’ve all been directed to stick to his priority list through his executive order. The only triage we’re able to do is accept people over the age of 65 regardless of their physical conditions or outlook.”
But all 1,000 doses were already snapped up by appointment or were expected to be by late afternoon.
“We have a very small amount of vaccines,” Jonathan Lord, director of Flagler County’s emergency management, said today. “That’s outside of our control or the Health Department’s control. This really is a marathon, not a sprint, so we ask people for patience. We know we’re going to get more vaccines, so try not to get all vaccine appointments all at once.”
Here’s what’s known for Flagler right now: On Monday afternoon at 1 p.m., the county’s Emergency Management division made close to 500 appointment slots available on the web, through the Eventbrite registration system, available here. But no sooner did Emergency Management open the appointments than they were filled. At the same time, the county had phone lines open for people without web access, looking to make appointments by phone (the number is 386-313-4200). Those lines were also overwhelmed to the point where county employees could not make or receive phone calls at various points during the day.
The Flagler County Health Department issued a release at 2 p.m., announcing the new appointment slots. But by then, the slots had long been filled. The department received an additional shipment of 500 doses on Monday, and those would make possible a new batch of vaccine appointments. Lord said those slots would open up later Monday afternoon. But he expected them also to be filled within minutes of being available, just like the first batch.
“The demand is so great but right now the supply is so limited, there’s only so many vaccines to go around here at the beginning of the vaccine administration phase,” Bob Snyder, who heads the Flagler Health Department, said. “But we’re committed to get the vaccines and push them out as soon as we get them.”
Flagler County is not the source of the problem. The problem is a flawed federal rollout that, with a president and his administration all but absent from the scene, failed to meet a series of benchmarks, was ill prepared to supply millions of doses, most of which remain undistributed, and has left all logistical and organizational responsibilities in the hands of already overwhelmed local health departments, counties and cities.
Flagler County’s coordinating system, however, is making do with what it has, ensuring that as many health-care first responders have been vaccinated–as it did Saturday–and standing up the registration system to make vaccine appointments roll with as little a wait as possible, once individuals are able to secure them.
“Bob Snyder is on a mission, he wants as many people vaccinated in our county as possible,” said Dr. Stephen Bickel, the medical director at the Flagler and Volusia health departments. “I’m right there with him.”
But there was no doubt that Snyder, a high-energy optimist who describes himself as the “comforter in chief,” was stretched to new limits on Monday, to the point of having to invite several dissatisfied residents into Health Department offices, sitting them down, calming them, and explaining to them why they could not immediately get appointments for vaccinations. “It’s a little bit crazy,” he said as an understatement, describing the crush of calls, individual dissatisfaction, the uncertainty about future shipments ahead and, on top of it all, the massive surge in local coronavirus cases, which are hugely taxing his department’s ability to conduct contact tracing and case investigations.
“We have to keep a strong complement of staff to do the case investing and to do the contact tracing and to keep the community testing going,” Snyder said. “We knew the month of January was going to be absolutely–just very complex and very much filled with activities, yes, the cases are going up, the numbers are high, so we have to focus on that as well. But we’re so focused on getting people vaccines at the same time.”
The current surge in new cases resulted in a 220 cases the week ending Dec. 19, then 281 cases the following week, then 338 cases last week.
“Totally predictable,” Bickel said of the latest surge which, if the same morbidity ratios apply as they have in the previous 10 months, would add well over a dozen deaths to Flagler’s current tally of 50. “We’ve all been afraid of this. We were hoping it wouldn’t happen, but we were all kind of expecting it.” Bickel said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top immunologist, had been warning since September that a combination of Thanksgiving and Christmas travel, plus increasing laxity toward basic precautions, augured a big rise in cases. Since case loads in the United States, including Florida and Flagler, were already high before the holidays, the exponential increase was bound to be very large, as it has been.
Bickel was still skeptical about the new strain of the coronavirus, which is much more transmissible. The strain was detected in Florida last week. “Florida has evidence of the first identified case of the UK Covid-19 variant in Martin County,” the state health department said in a Twitter post Thursday. “The individual is a male in his 20s with no history of travel. The Department is working with the CDC on this investigation. We encourage all to continue practicing Covid-19 mitigation.”
In another tweet, the department added, “Experts anticipate little to no impact on the effectiveness of the Covid-19 vaccine,” the News Service of Florida reported. The announcement came after reports that the strain, or variant, of the coronavirus also had been detected in Colorado and California. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on its website that the variant is estimated to have first emerged in the United Kingdom in September.
As of Sunday, 256,000 people in Florida have been vaccinated, including 926 in Flagler County.
Snyder and Gretchen Smith, the spokesperson for the local health department, countered claims that the department was in any way lax or deceptive in the way it allowed people 65 and over to be vaccinated at the County Fairgrounds event on Saturday, though it had previously announced the event as being open only for health workers. “The only thing that was lax was that we didn’t publicize that we were going to let people who are 65 and over, in to get vaccinated,” Smith said. “If we had publicized that, it would have been worse.” In other words, the crush of people at the Fairgrounds would have made it far more difficult to ensure that the very first priority–health care first responders–was served, as it in fact was. But when people 65 and over showed up as well, “They could not be sent away because of the executive order,” Snyder said.
For all the overwhelming response, it’s just for the first shot: the same people who got their vaccines, and will get vaccinated in coming days and weeks, must get their second shot three weeks after their first in order for the vaccine to be as effective as intended. Local officials have not yet taken on that challenge, and are apprehensive about what it will entail, once the second dose becomes due. There’s been discussions at some levels–and enactment, in England–of possibly delaying the second shot for a few weeks, as first-shot logistics are dealt with. But that’s an approach Bickel considers unwise and contradictory of all the vaccine messaging that health officials have been dispensing for months.
Despite the logistical problems of the rollout and the disappointment among many, Bickel said the enthusiasm for vaccination is a bright, silver lining–an indication that the desire for the vaccine is strong and broad, making eventual herd immunity a goal within reach.
Pissed in PC says
My suggestion to the Health Department is to listen to the CDC and forget DeathSantis! He’s created this mess along with the idiots in the White House and soon Biden will be taking this out of the states hands. Not to mention Eventbrite is a joke! I totally respect Dr. Bickle but logistics isn’t your specialty. Find someone with knowledge.
Remember this line from the imbecile a while back “everyone who wants a test can get a test”
Percy's mother says
Yes, I remember, AND everyone who wants a test IS getting a test.
Locations are posted every week by Flagler County Government.
Right. Now. After 10 months of the virus.
That was then this is now. He shot his mouth off at first and few were being tested because his mentor the orange blowhard didn’t want the numbers going up and now here we are
FLAGLERFL: We will not be using the Eventbrite system for new appointments.State has advised that we will have access to a new system next week
Cant even get it right
The problem is that the Federal Government has no control over State Governments, read the Constitution!!!!
Pissed in PC says
I know the constitution and if the idiot in the people’s house (thank god only 15 more days) had taken responsibility and not left logistics to his unqualified SiL he could have activated the military. Even DeathSantis could have activated the FL National Guard. So I suggest maybe you not speak on what you are unqualified to do so.
me, me . me. since you know the constitution what does that have to do with increasing the number of virus vaccines to flagler co and fl? the national guard would administer what if they have no vaccines to give? het dumb ass the military is not producing the vaccine nor are they prepared to administer.
Pissed in PC says
The military is in the logistics expertise and yes they have doctors and nurses too but I guess you think those camo wearing flag humpers are our military. SMDH
David Lesser says
I too received the notice at 1:09 when 500 appointment slots were released. The article states that a second group of 500 appointment slots were released later in the afternoon. I did not receive a notice about the second group of slots. Did anyone?
That only went to friends and family?
In contrast to what this article states, I received the phone text message today at 109pm to go to the flaglercounty.org website to make a vaccine appointment which I did with NO complications. At 131pm I received the text that all appointments were filled for the mornings of Tuesday to Thursday. Three mornings worth of appointments every 15 minutes. My appointment was confirmed at 119pm.
Please report how it went after you receive it.
Perfect. No side effects. Very organized at Cattleman’s.
Dave H says
My experience was similar. Signed up with eventbrite per info on the county website. I received a text at 1:09pm, followed directions and had tickets on my phone and printed in 10 minutes. While the process was not great, it did work.
Last weekend I signed up for a vaccine appointment with two other counties. The appointment process was better, but I have yet to receive a call back. I will now cancel those appointments. All in all, little Flagler is not doing too bad in a situation with little national or state guidance or help.
Linda Hagman says
I, too, Pat was signed up to receive a phone text but never did. Then upon learning through Flagler Live about the appointments being filled, went to the flaglercounty.org site and saw that to be notified you had to register with eventbrite? I just got through to the Emergency Management desk and asked “how does one get notified as to whether or not appointments are available” –when she repeated this text 888 blah, blah blah I explained that I did and did not get notified. When pressed as to do you register with Eventbrite or phone text—she got annoyed and hung up on me.
You have been successful setting up an appointment–would you be so kind to give the rest of us some guidance because the Emergency Management desk certainly isn’t any help. Thank you Pat–wishing you the best in actually receiving the vaccine.
It might be easier if you simply go to Nextdoor.com to see my myriad of comments in the thread entitled Covid Vaccine. Several folks have explained the step by step process.
Point: when you “texted” 888777, did you receive the reply asking for your legal home zip code? If it’s a Flagler County zip code, you’ll get a response. If it’s an out of county zip, you may not…
A Snowbird acquaintance used her Northern zip and didn’t receive a response.
I called at 12:59 and couldn’t get through nor with the event brite website. How could it have been sold out before 1:00 when they said it will start at 1:00? It was terrible and then I hear someone got through for tickets after they posted it was all,sold out. When you are in your late 70’s, this is terrible.
Really disappointed that some police and city employees are not wearing masks. This article indicates our numbers are increasing tremendously.
Please wear the masks and socially distance. Thank you for this update.
Is there any adults in this County?
County has age records in their database or can get one of people in this County. Right?
Use that data to schedule appointments according to priority and availability of vaccine.
Is it too complicated?
I read in a recent article that non-residents of Flagler county were getting the vaccine in Flagler county. If this is true, shouldn’t someone look into this? Shouldn’t we be vaccinating our own first? I hope the article I read was false.
Residents may get vaccinated in any county they choose, once they are able to secure an appointment.
We didn’t receive a text even though we signed up to 888777!! But was checking every hour and LUCKILY we got an appointment
Well this is one big problem. It’s not fair for the residents that live in Flagler and should not be allowed.
Vincent A. Liguori says
Sad to report that the phone system did not work due to technical difficulties with the Eoc number( 1-386 313-4200. Health department employees acknowledged the problem. The problem was not corrected for at least two hours. When corrected, it was impossible to get through. Once again, poor planning. The Eoc telephone prompt states that lines will be open from 9am to 4pm. Question: appointments for what period of time-totally confusing. Requires qualification.
This is how we roll? says
It’s one thing in creating a new vaccine in one year and it’s another thing in getting into people’s arms! Looks like the blame game all over again, and only 1000 vials sent to Flagler County? A roll out with no plan and no one in charge! Hoping if we get thousands of vials the vaccine site should be open 24/7 with 3 shifts of hired nurses.
So this is how we roll? says
also why do some people have a heads up as to the timing of when to call and most people do not? Also been hearing that many people are getting hung up on when they call the health department number by a female who works there, that doesn’t seem right!
dan beasley says
Just curious why a gov. agency is even involved in this vaccine. We have many cvs, walgreens, walmart pharmicies, grocery stores with pharmicies. They gave out the flu shots with no problems. Get the dang vaccine them them and let them do their job.
If Trump had not started this Operation Warp Speed we would not be having this problem!
Give me a break, it’s because of trump’s incompetency we are in this situation. The heroes are the scientists. January 20th can’t come fast enough.
Scientists said it would take two years to develop a vaccine. Trump would not accept that. We would be hiding in our basements like Uncle Joe with his multiple masks until the virus killed enough for herd immunity.
Heres what I dont accept about your Trump. He knew the gravity of the situation in March and being the coward He is didn’t give the People the true story. He is incapable of the Truth. I would rather Capt. Kangaroo than 45.
Not a Unicorn says
Why are high risk people under 65 not allowed to get a vaccine along with people 65+? CDC clearly has stated to vaccinate the highest risk people And those over 65. Desantis just said that he’s going to “dump a buncha vaccines on Disney for their employees next.” What?!
Also, does Advent Health have vaccines? They got some in December. It says so in the fchd website. If they have/get vaccines and do not move them the Governor is going to take them away to give to a hospital that will. The hospital and the health dept need to make sure they’re vaccinating high risk people in this community, regardless of their age. Triage exists for a reason. Someone has to stand up and do the right thing. It’s unconscionable to do otherwise.
Only about the 💵 says
I love Disney and I know that there’s people in the older age group that work there. BUT, with that being said, this is completely unacceptable and NOT fair AT ALL to others who are also in need of the vaccine. The reason why DEATHSANTIS is doing this, is NOT because he cares about the people who work there, it is ONLY about caring for the DOLLARS 💵 that Disney brings in!! Greed is not forgiven and sooner or later it will come back and haunt you.
Thank you FlaglerLive for this article. We can count on you as always to keep us well informed.
I will reserve my judgment on Deathsantis to myself.
Linda Hagman says
I’m between disgust and anger regarding how within minutes prior to any public notice all the appointments are gone.
Perhaps as a person over 65 I showed up when healthcare workers were getting vaccinated I too could receive a shot.
This is indicative of the time we live in…the time where incompetence reins supreme and “cheating and lying” pays off. The era of Trump.
Stop vaccinating people over 65 and keep it to health care workers. I have never witnessed so many selfish cowardly elders in my life.
Some of the posts are hilarious, still blaming Trump & Operation Warp Speed for something Biden-Harris & Dr Fraudi is never going to get under control or cure. Plenty of tests to keep a pandemic going and not enough vaccines to go around. It’s a vaccine, not a cure. Healthcare on the government tab. The Grand Illusion (Styx). So today, I drove to a few public spots, no masks, people just living their lives like it’s 1999 (Prince), wasn’t infected by the flu, nor any strain of Coronavirus. Another gorgeous sunny day in Flagler county & Palm Coast, FL on the planet Earth.
John Stove says
As a State Certified Emergency Manager (retired) I can tell you that the Governor and the Trump Administration is the problem. The Governor on behalf of the Federal Government should have activated a state-wide command and control system with both Military and Civilian Health components. They could have collectively made top to bottom logic based decisions on who gets it (based on CDC guidelines), how they get it and when they get it.
If necessary under a Unified Command structure they could have set up vaccination centers in local mass gathering areas (fairgrounds, etc) and only people in the target group can be in that area (not….”anyone who wants one just make an appointment”).
Military are experts in logistics and could have led the way and assisted in crowd control and vaccine transport. Civilian operations group would keep records.
Both Desantis and Trump take no responsibility and just keep blaming others. If you cant or wont lead, just go and get out of the way!
That is the way I see it as well and it is the Realty. Lack of leadership from the top and the blame game alive and well. Thank God enough of us came to our senses and Voted the unqualified incompetent self centered man behind the curtain out. Little Ronnie is next.
Ben Hogarth says
Happy to concur 100% with your comments John, and appreciate your public service. I’m also state certified in my own focuses within emergency management NIMS and ICS structures. This is absolutely a failure of leadership from the top down. Unfortunately, your words will fall on mostly deaf ears in Flagler County. Most of the voting base in Flagler is off-base with the majority of the needs and concerns of this country. At no point should the coronavirus pandemic been woven into some political argument, yet the threat it posed to the legitimacy of incompetent leaders like DeSantis and Trump has ultimately led to this calamity.
They ignored their responsibilities for months, which would have been the perfect opportunity to plan ahead (proactively) for the distribution of these critical vaccines across the state and nation. Instead, they waited until the last moment to unload a fraction of the needed vaccines onto hospital and healthcare systems without a centralized plan or regimented system in which average people can understand and abide.
This is a tragedy in motion, and history will not be kind to those who supported these failed public office holders. The irony is also not lost on me that so many of Trump and DeSantis’ own supporters, including those in Flagler County, are now suffering and will continue to suffer.
Before we worry about making America “GREAT” again, maybe we should worry about each of us being “GOOD” again. Empathy and conscience could have gone a long way in curbing this crisis, and saving lives.
Jane Gentile-Youd says
Phones busy all morning. Emails to Jonathan Lord a waste of time. Apparently only those people who have their phones strapped to their asses were lucky to read and respond to the text the very second it was sent! I was told by a nasty Gretchen at 3:45 that I could get vaccine Friday but she did not offer to make appointment but told me to go online. I did I got one red box that said “ticket”.. clicked it and response was site was refreshing. Then red box was gone. Then looked at Monday January 11..one red box again.. clicked it and got Refresh response again.. Lo and behold..I am shut out..all because my cell phone wasn’t strapped to my ass at 1Pm
But it’s okay to give Flagler allotment to friends of those who live outside the county instead of the residents and taxpayers. Outraged is putting it midly….
Percy's mother says
If you follow instructions, you will not have a problem.
However, you need to get INFORMED so you can follow instructions.
Sitting all day on Facebook and Flagler Live posting multiple angry and “outraged” comments instead of getting informed isn’t Gretchen Smith’s fault.
The days of picking up the phone and making a phone call are over. If you’re on social media, which you are because you post multiple comments, you should know how to go about inputting your data so as to get instant notifications regarding vaccination.
So this is the latest outrage and angst du jour.
Jane Gentile-Youd says
My you are a nasty lady Percy’s mother. The days of telephones are NOT over and many of us do a lot more with our day than sit at our computers with our phones tied to our rear ends!
Gina Weiss says
I followed all the instructions and the same thing happened to me as happened to Jane the only difference being I did not call but did get bumped out when tickets were still open, now why is that. However still hanging up on anyone is very unprofessional, I as a homecare RN would have been fired if I hung up on any of my patients.
Jane Gentile-Youd says
To Percy’s mother:
I am sure Alexander Graham Bell would roll over in his grave if he could read your ‘ comment’
Are you going to TEXT 911 when you need an ambulance?
Does your doctor text you with your test results?
Does everyone you know communicate with you only via text?
I would love to see your replies –
Number 8 says
Flagler County will take 5 years to vaccinate all the over 65 group at the rate they are going. I tried to sign up for text alerts and it won’t work on my phone and no one answers the phone at the number posted. I heard it sold out in 10 minutes. What’s the point? Thanks Flagler, I’m not surprised.
Only Me says
DeSantis once again has failed the citizens of Florida. He is a complete failure as a governor and hopefully will be a one term governor.
He keeps giving out fake news and has washed his hands of the responsibilities he took and oath of office to uphold.
Apparently, the county has little or no control over the amount of vaccine received. However, our county is responsible for creating an efficient system of distribution of the vaccine once it arrives — it has failed to do so. As I see it, our county commissioners bear the ultimate responsibility for the administration of our county: THE BUCK MUST STOP THERE! Inasmuch as they have failed in their duty to the people, it is incumbent upon them to have this situation corrected immediately or submit their resignations forthwith.
Jonathan Lord…Stick to the plan! By slipping in 65 yo folks into Saturday’s health care personnel event, by sending out a text Monday morning opening up registrations to be closed 10 minutes later, and reopening registrations Monday afternoon without a text notification, only destroys credibility in this important program. With registrations open to out of state residents and tourists, the problem will become even more frustrating to those of us who live here. A bigger problem is on the horizon when first dose people collide with second dose people in 28 days and beyond.
Open the registration lines only once per day until the quota is filled. Period. That way people can go on with their lives.
Just Joking! says
The new Flagler County slogan should be “Be Local, Die Local”.
I just love everyone who sits behind a computer to bad mouth the leaders of this state/country as to how they they think they have failed everyone. I’ll bet anyone anything that those same people don’t do anything about it to make things better. How about next time there is an election for the Governor of Fl. You all get off your areses and run for the office.
So says the Trumper who bashes any person who doesn’t see it his way.
Welcome to the United States of McDonald’s. Anything under immediately constitutes an outrage. And people say millennials are the problem. JUSTSAYIN
Just wait a few weeks until one of the underage rich and powerful jumps to the front of the line. That’s when the fit really hits the Shan.
You can bet your sweet ass if Amazon was assigned to distribute and inject the vaccine we’d ALL have a shot in the arm in two days.
Only if you have Prime . . .
Is the glass 1/2 empty or 1/2 full? I was determined to get in. Did my research, filled out the forms, kept my phone close and my computer on. I got the text and instantly went to the computer. After several refreshes got my appointment and yesterday went thru a organized and relaxing process at the fairgrounds. Could not help but think of the poor souls in Volusia!
Hats off to FCHD!
My arm is a little sore but I feel good, yes I do!!!!!
Number 8 says
You should have bought a lotto ticket after that.
Wife & I just got our 1st Covid Moderna vaccination at Flagler Cty fairgrounds. So organized & efficient! Absolutely amazing. Flagler Cty Health Dept & Bob Snyder totally ROCK!👍💥
Number 8 says
You are another one that should have bought a lotto ticket after that. It’s easy to be organized and efficient when you have such a small job passing out a handful of injections. Flagler County should be telling the governer to stop sending all that vaccine to ORANGE County.