There were as many new, confirmed coronavirus cases in the single week ending Saturday in Flagler County–398–than there’d been in the entirety of the pandemic from February through July 4. The prognosis for the days ahead is worse. And the county may get very little, if any, more vaccines over the next five weeks, local officials say.
Bob Snyder, who heads the Flagler County Health Department, spoke as if at a wake when he updated the Flagler County Commission this morning, and in many ways it was. It was his grimmest update yet in nearly a year of reporting on the pandemic’s local consequences.
“November, December, and now January have sequentially been the worst months for spread of the virus, suffering and stress on resources,” Snyder said. “Right now, all of our indicators regarding the virus continue to trend upward, and upward in the wrong direction, as is the case in all the counties here in Florida. As predicted, the virus spread after Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Year’s, and now we are seeing the negative effects of holiday travel, as expected.”
Weekly case loads have broken records each of the last four weeks, though in Flagler case have not fallen since early October: they would level off from time to time, then keep rising. Because the base level of infections was already high, the current surge, when it hit, was bound to be the worst yet.
There were 26 people hospitalized at AdventHealth Palm Coast today on a primary diagnosis of Covid-19, by far the highest total yet since the beginning of the pandemic and a further indication of why the hospital, and others in the Advent network, went to “Red Status” last week, as they are being overrun with patients the way many hospitals across the country have been.
On Sunday, Covid took the life of the 51st local resident. It was Jon Netts, the former mayor.
“It’s a tragedy that we’re losing some really important leaders in this community due to Covid,” County Commissioner Andy Dance said. “I’ll go even back to Mr. Russell, an amazing leader at the high school, and this is just–it’s everywhere, it’s just sad for the community that we are going to be missing these people.” Tom Russell, the celebrated principal at Flagler Palm Coast High School and long-time administrator in Volusia, died in early December.
Locally, cases, close contacts, hospital admissions, ER visits associated with Covid-like symptoms “are all increasing and still have not peaked,” Snyder said. “Workloads for our real heroes, hospital, long-term care, health department and other health care workers has significantly grown.”
Worse yet: there are no vaccines for Flagler in sight. Not even for people who got their first dose and will need their second dose.
“We learned yesterday from the state that zero doses will be allocated to Flagler County this week,” Snyder said.
The forecast from Jonathan Lord, the emergency management chief, was even more dire: “The state forewarns for the next five weeks, expect very little, if any vaccine to show up, for us to be able to coordinate with the health department, for the health department to be able to give out. It’s going to go to some other priority area, higher density populations. I don’t know this as a fact, but the fact that we had the lowest case rate for many, many months, which was something I was glad we did–we no longer have the lowest case rate, we’re number six from the bottom now–that probably plays into it a little bit. We did well as a community, therefore they’re focusing on other priority areas.”
Commissioner Dave Sullivan spoke of a recent Northeast Regional Council meeting “where the state rep talked about the availability of the vaccine. It’s just not there right now and it’s going to take a long time to come forward,” Sullivan said.
When additional vaccines do turn up, local officials will be prohibited by rules set out by Gov. Ron DeSantis from giving priority to those who need a second dose.
“They’re prohibited from holding onto vaccine for second doses at this time,” Lord said of health department officials. The county has records of all those who took their first dose. “If we are told we are allowed to reach out and prioritize second doses, we will call back our residents and help them get an appointment with the health department to do so. But as Bob said, it’s if. We don’t even know if that’s something we’ll be allowed to do.” Right now, that’s prohibited. “Some counties, when people got their first dose, allowed them to make a theoretical appointment for the future. We could have done that. That would have even further taxed our system, but I’m going to tell you right now, a lot of those counties are going to have to call back those people and say, sorry, we can’t give you vaccines.”
“It will take months to vaccinate all who want the vaccine<’ Snyder said, without giving an actual timeline, which, based on the current pace, would be dispiriting. “We will get there. So please be patient. Be kind. And pray for those who are afflicted.”
So far the health department received 1,700 vaccines in two shipments, the last one last Monday. The supply is depleted after first responders and others 65 and over who managed to win what amounted to an appointment lottery–slots vanished within minutes of being made available last week–were vaccinated, especially on January 2 at the Flagler County Fairgrounds.
“On the 2nd we did not turn anyone away who was 65 years of age and older,” Snyder said. “That day, 541 individuals were vaccinated over a four-hour period. In return we received numerous phone calls, emails, from both seniors and health care workers, they were grateful and complimented the health department, emergency management, the CERT team and Flagler volunteers for our preparation set-up, efficiency, and the family-like cheerful atmosphere that our little army of caregivers created.”
But the department was also brutally criticized for not announcing that the event would be open to those 65 and over. It had spoken of it as being for first responders. But in accordance with the governor’s executive order, which prioritizes first responders and people 65 and over, the department could not legally turn away older people. And advertising the event ahead of time for people 65 and over would have resulted in a mass turnout neither the department nor its volunteers were equipped to handle.
“Nothing that we will do will contradict the phasing outlined by the governor in his executive order,” Snyder said.
DeSantis, a close ally of the president, has in many ways reflected the administration’s catastrophic rollout of the vaccine with its lack of coordinated planning and casting off of most such responsibilities on local governments and agencies. Lord today was grateful that the state is about to take back control of the appointment process, freeing the county from managing what had been frustrating to residents and a technical nightmare for the county. “The state,” Lord said, “control the vaccine, they control the doses, they control the criteria, they should also in our mind control the appointment process since we can’t answer a lot of the questions of why can’t I get an appointment, why can someone else get it.”
Local officials were candid about the challenges they faced within the federal and state restrictions. “Currently, vaccine inventory is grossly inadequate to vaccinate the 36,000 persons 65 and older in our community,” Snyder said. “It’s kind of hard to do with only 1700 doses received and disseminated the last two weeks. Right now it is an understatement that demand exceeds supply.”
The picture he painted statewide was not reassuring for its relegation of Flagler to third-tier status. “Statewide, only 254,000 doses were available and allocated to 17 county health departments, a few hospital systems, churches, the Villages at Lady Lake, a Hard Rock Cafe in South Florida, and other state-sponsored vaccination sites,” Snyder said. “The Department of Health and county emergency management proved last week that we are ready and able to mass vaccinate and get doses into arms quickly.” But without vaccines to administer, it is powerless.
Lord and Snyder are holding out hopes that current protocols will not define protocols once Joe Biden is in office. “The focus changes, those who may have seen the news, the whole process of how the vaccine will be rolled out when the administration in D.C. changes, too,” Lord said. Biden at the end of December said that the current pace would “take years, not months,” to get Americans vaccinated. He described it as “the greatest operational challenge we’ve ever faced as a nation” but said “we’re going to get it done.”
Trump has been largely absent from the governance since before the ele3ction, and his administration has been hemorrhaging cabinet members on down.
Nearly 23,000 people have died of the disease in Florida, 375,000 across the nation. The seven-day, average daily death toll is now above 3,000 across the United States for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic–a 9/11 or worse per day. It’s still rising, with over 4,000 deaths on a single day over the weekend.
With 20,000 cases reported last Friday, the seven-day caseload average in Florida is above 15,000 per day in a state where DeSantis continues to take pride in keeping restrictions between minimum and zero, where he still forbids local governments from enforcing mask mandates, where he forbids restrictions on business operations or gatherings, where his cavalier attitude toward mask-wearing has undermined public health messaging, and where he’s defied Centers for Disease Control guidelines and countered vaccination priorities for front-line workers, including teachers, to focus on those 65 and over.
We ask all residents to please not be complacent and reaffirm your commitment to public health measures,” Snyder said, his tone almost despairing of more lax attitudes that have set in over time, between Covid fatigue and especially the sense that with the vaccine now circulating, people can relax. Snyder in previous interviews said that attitude can be deadly, as it is currently a gross miscalculation.
Sullivan, who had initiated the county’s voluntary mask mandate last summer, joining more strongly worded city initiatives, spoke publicly against misinformation and Covid deniers as he had not done so previously–and as no member of the commission had.
“I remember at the beginning of this, the non-supporters feel like, well, you don’t even know anybody who’s had Covid, or been sick from it,” Sullivan said. “I venture to say, if you go on out of your house one time now, or talk to anybody in the community, you know somebody who has come down with Covid and gotten very sick from it. Right now we are in the most critical point in the process, and I’m really afraid we in Flagler County have done everything we can to keep business going, keep things open, and I think we’ve done a good job on that. I think the health department and all of us have done a good job on holding the percentages down. But right now those percentages are not down. We’re in double figures every day on positivity rate. We’ve had days of over 100 cases for Covid cases here recently. That’s not the way it was months ago, when everybody was worried about it and we put in all these rules and regulations. Right now, right now, we’re at the most dangerous point we can possibly be on this disease, and if we don’t take seriously what’s been said, then it’s going to get worse before it gets better.”
Sullivan added: “I think it’s important for us to speak out on the facts, not somebody’s weird idea that this is some kind of thing done by the government to hurt us all. It’s not. It’s serious, and we’ve got to take it that way.”
Operation Warp speed huh. Sounds more like Galapagos Tortoise speed. Any way one can only stay positive that at some point plenty will be available. Be safe
Trump is too busy packing up his personal belongings at the White House to be in the forefront of the vaccine rollout. It is what it is and trust me Biden won’t be doing anything either as he will blame it all on Trump.
Just like t-rump blamed everything on Obama !!!!!!
Mary Lew Renninger says
We are always the last. Come on DiSantis…. help us in Flagler…. please at 79 I want to be around for my grandkids wedding… get with it
What ever happened to the General in charge of distribution?
WARP SPEED? my .ss
John Stove says
Trump, Republicans and Dumbsantis……talk about a bunch of low energy, “whats in it for me”, idiots. They knew months and months ago that a vaccine was on the horizon and did not prepare for its eventual rollout.
Now they coming up with stupid rules and ideas. These guys are the biggest tools this country has ever seen.
TRUMP WAS THE WORST PRESIDENT IN THE HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES
We have no political pull do we? What about our state reps?
The Voice Of Reason says
Barbara, We are a county of lazy voters that mainly go for the candidate with the most campaign signs on the side of the road. Politicians know Flagler voters don’t pay attention and can be taken for granted at election time. (republicans). Therefore, we can and are taken for granted. I believe if you’re not doing your research into candidates, leave the box blank or stay home. Think of mullins enablers. They keep getting reelected.
Disgusted and Reviled says
So where are these Wonder Republicans who pound their chests and strut about? WHAT are they doing to get Flagler more vaccine? They can’t be found. If there is any real work to do they either can’t be found or they are paying for buses to DC to rip our Capital apart and murder people. What a fine example of USELESS you are ! Did YOU spineless wonders get the vaccine? Methinks you did and tough cookies for the rest of us
I’ve said from day one, I won’t get vaccinated until next year because of supply issues. I’m not high risk or of age, so I’m bottom of the barrel. Couple that with people coming here from out of state or country even and receiving doses that should go to FL residents, it’s disgusting. While Trump and his enablers screamed and lied about non-existent election fraud (which BTW say what you really mean—too many black people voted), people have been dying at a record clip from covid. Infections are out of control because people won’t wear a stupid piece of cloth. Want to get back to normal? That’s how you do it. Want to keep the country like this? Continue to act like an ignorant fool.
Linda S Coble says
Governor DeSantis, I live in Palm Coast, FL… why are we not receiving the vaccine?
I am not the only one that is over 65 with compromised health conditions..there are no vaccines even in the near future… who decides where these vaccines go?
Who do we go to, to get answers?
We are Palm toast. says
Today I received two emails, one from the state of Florida Dept of Health and one from the CDC. They say those with preexisting health issues deemed especially vulnerable to Covid can now receive the vaccine (they should have been included with the others to begin with).
Why is Advent Health Hospital sitting on thousands of vaccines? For what reason are they not administering them to us? Who are they saving them for?
Seems like all the vaccines went to Orange County and south Florida.
Then I heard on the news that UCF is getting thousands of vaccines for staff and students. Staff, I understand but students? The least likely to be sickened by Covid? Who made that stupid decision?
Also, to the non-masking Nitwits in Target today, and the weirdos waving trump flags at the corner of Old Kings and PC parkway, TRUMP LOST! Put on a mask ya buncha fascists or stay the hell at home.
Politics, (im)pure and simple.
Mondexian Mama says
Politics: the religion of the feebleminded.
Dont worry, hoe will whip some up from his basement. Dr jill will produce it, since she is such a fine Doctor……
We’re done with you says
Yeah, probably Melania who’s so virtuous and educated will do something about it. 🙄
You however, reveal your stupidity with every word.
So the first shots are a waste because the second shot will not be given making the number vaccinated 0. How thoughtful.
OK, someone in this government, needs to come forth about the production rates for the facilities on vaccines. Is that Dr Fraudi or someone else. They’ve really had 10 months to get this figured out procedurally. Not that a vaccine is really a cure or anything. Remember that a vaccine is either mRNA, that or living or dead strains introduced into your body so the immune system can learn how to fight the virus. I find it difficult to believe that any of the labs, and that’s what this takes to produce any vaccine can’t meet the quota to get this done. Unless it takes some unusually & excessively length of time to actually produce a small and inadequate supply of the vaccine. Because there exists the same infrastructure to distribute a vaccine for the flu vs a vaccine for Coronavirus.
This is what the Government indicates the labs do for flu vaccines.
The pdf indicates 75 million vaccines each year,but the capacity can scale up to 900 million per year, enough to cover this nations population 3X. The Coronavirus vaccinationis a 2 inoculation process, so that’s 1.5x the coverage in a year. The question then becomes, how much mRNA of the Coronavirus can they produce & mix into the serum that any vaccine uses to suspend the mRNA as an ingredient. We’re basically looking at this like adding sugar to your coffee, where the analogy is that the sugar is the Coronavirus mRNA, the coffee is what is visibly what one sees as a vaccine fluid serum. The questions become how much of the “sugar” of mRNA is necessary in each vaccine to be considered a powerful enough concoction. So those would be my questions and the pertinent issues on this, just scientifically & logically brainstorming why the production seems to be inadequate.
To make mRNA, the assumption is you need a sterile lab ? Do these & other facilities need to be dedicated solely to the vaccine, can other labs be brought online & up to speed ? As I understand the Coronavirus vaccination process, it’s a 2 week, 2 shot innoculation. One & done isn’t the instructions like a flu vaccine is. Maybe that’s because the vaccine stays inside your body for extended periods and they don’t tell you that ? Really, the healthcare people need to be educating the masses. But that’s another debate and disappointment I have with healthcare industry. You’re supposed to trust them blindly. Maybe they do such a poor job of educating their teams ?
John Yankovich says
Folks, the states and counties have had 3 months to prepare for distribution. Flagler cty has 115,000+ residents. The rollout depends on manufacturing of the vaccine, which I’m sure is on a 24/7 schedule. The Trump Adminstration developed the vaccine with a partnership of govt/private sector in 8 months. Under the federal system the states are responsible for distribution. The states and countries have no excuse for not having an organized system to get people signed up. When booking you get an appointment and you shud get a confirmed date for 2nd dose at time of booking. Most of the confusion is logistical in signup. That shud have occurred at least 4-6weeks ago. Manufacturing will pick up speed! New York State is throwing away unused vaccine! County Health pull up your socks and get’er done!
Amazing how a lot over 65 cannot seem to get vaccinated, and yes even those with health considerations. I’ve tried 4 times and zip, nada, failed. Shameful, NO appointments in this day and age. I cannot just go set in a car for hours on a whim hoping I get a shot. This will take years before vaccinations are even half completed and if the second dose is missed The problem, according to the CDC If someone who has had only a single dose is exposed to the virus, their immune system might not be able to kill it off. That could allow the virus to develop a response to the limited immunity provided by that one dose. OH what fun.
Land of no turn signals says says
And here I am watching the news on T.V. and hospitals are throwing out vaccines because they are expired.
So why have our State elected officials not stepped in on our behalf? I understand that they can gain nothing financially by going to bat for the residents that they were elected to represent. However, y’all want to talk about what great guys they are. They’re doing the same thing for us with the vaccine that they did to us with the CARES funding. Everyone was screaming scam at the county when in fact, none of our State elected officials did a darn thing to step in and help make things happen. But I’m sure y’all will re-elect them next time for you did right in the middle of the CARES debacle. Lets start by electing competent officials and stop electing the people that tell you what you want to hear but only take care of their personal interests.
Steve Kaplan says
Just as the people of Flagler County are complaining to their officials about their lack of access to the Covid vaccine – our officials should be complaining and pressuring those at the state level to allocate more vaccines for us. The squeaky wheel gets the most grease. County commissioners should do more squeaking to the state. We should not settle for the state’s logical excuses in a totally illogical environment.
joseph falis says
Still waiting for ” Trickle Down ” from the 80″s, Now trying to get an appointment for a vaccine during ” “Warp Speed”. At age 83, I hope its faster !
Do you think it’s bad here ? You ought to be in New York with Governor Como’s . They are so miss managed throwing vaccinations away, letting it expire with no one to give the shots, it’s ridiculous typical Democrat state everybody is running from New York to get away.
When idiots vote in someone as despicable as Joe Mullins what do you expect from our County Government?
Concerned Citizen says
The spike in numbers are not surprising.
We have ourselves to blame for that. Folks just had to travel and spend holiday’s with their family. Heaven forbid should we have stayed home and tried to do the right thing to flatten this. I understand the need to want to see family. No one wants to more than myself. I had to resist the temptation and stay put. My mom is 74 and my stepfather is 81. I was not going to put them at risk for a few days over a holiday.
I am also seeing large events again with little to no masking and zero social distancing. We’ve gotten complacent. And with that attitude this thing will never go away. I have family in the medical field and watching them fight this month after month is frustrating.
Wear the mask and stay home when possible. If our own government won’t do the right thing and institute a solid lock down then it’a up to us tod o the right thing. We have see that the prevantative measure work elsewhere.
Stow the political rehtoric until after we have gotten a hold on this. As long as we continue to act selfish things aren’t going to get much better.
Are you trump supporters happy?,tell us how it was all rigged,nice scene in Washington ,I hope you won’t get a vaccination for the China flu,don’t wear masks,and please donate the $2,000 to trump,you wouldn’t want to receive socialist money from the liberal leftist president,such losers….
The Voice Of Reason says
Barney, there were lots of trumpers that said after election day covid would go away, disappear. That it was fake. Stupid gullible fools. Brainwashed. The virus is killing more Americans every day than 9/11. 4000+ every day. Thanks dummies!
Hammock Bear says
The VA in St.Augustine today said they will notify us when they get the vaccine. To date, they have not had any vaccine . Veterans also are waiting, folks. We need to be patient and stop the finger pointing. Use your fingers to email our Elected and ask them about the vaccine.
JC Santos says
Elderly, those at high risk, and first responders/medical professionals should be in line first. College students are carriers but once at school they shouldn’t go home or to grandmas until two negative tests in 48hrs. Those at highest risk of dying should be first. We have over 3.5M who are 65 or older. Who knows how many others at high risk or in that priority 1 group. That takes time. Thankfully there are excellent treatments now and vaccines coming, otherwise it would’ve been 2+ years for vax development. Pray there are no long term effects from the speedy vaccines. What a mess.
Too small to matter.
Really concerned says
Why are we not getting any vaccine.Who is responsible for fighting for us to get this?
The Voice Of Reason says
Tell mullins to call trump.
All of these so called posters that are experts on dam near everything they post. So I ask these so called posting experts, how could you have prepared vaccinations and give these vaccinations to 328 MILLION People in the US in under two or three weeks ? answer you can’t, its logistically impossible. So many impatient people in this county, that think the world owes them and them along something.
On Wednesday, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced that select Publix stores in Volusia and Flagler counties soon would begin offering appointments for COVID-19 vaccinations, continuing a rollout of vaccination efforts at other Publix locations across the state.
Hammock Resident says
I got my shot in St Augustine. You can go to any County in Florida to get your shot. Keep checking Volusia, Flagler, & St Johns County Health Department websites to see when they get vaccine so you can register. Publix starting today is also giving vaccine shots at many locations. It is much easier to register for a shot over the internet than waiting in line for 24 hours.