For months, Florida has led the U.S. in reported COVID-19 cases and deaths, but in recent weeks, the delta surge has died down in the Southeast, leaving over 18,000 dead.
This week, Florida dipped below a 5% COVID-19 test positivity rate for the first time since July 2, to 4.8%, according to the Florida Department of Health’s Oct. 8 weekly situation report.
Brevard and Orange county also dipped below a 5% positivity rate, which Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings called “the pinnacle we are all striving for” at a Sept. 30 press conference.
“Once we hit a sustained period of time where that number is 5% or less, we will not be under a state of emergency,” he said. Orange County has been under a State of Local Emergency since July 28, which was most recently renewed on Oct. 6 for another week.
The end of this surge doesn’t mean you should stop taking precautions such as social distancing and masking indoors, however, experts warn.
“We are encouraged by what we are seeing throughout Florida and in Central Florida,” said Dr. Tim Hendrix, senior medical director for AdventHealth Centra Care, on Sept. 30. “But we continue to watch the rate of positive COVID tests closely, particularly among children, who account for one out of every five positive tests right now.”
The state Department of Health reported 25,792 new coronavirus cases this week among Florida residents to bring the cumulative total to 3,601,755. With 1,368 more fatalities on record, 56,667 Florida residents have died.
This week’s 1,368 deaths reflect a decrease from the 1,719 reported last week, but deaths can take several days or weeks to be reported. The majority of the newly reported deaths are people who died before this week. The number of weekly cases decreased compared to the previous week’s 37,772.
Hospitalizations continued to decline as well. Across the state, 3,546 people are hospitalized with COVID-19 for the seven-day period from Sept. 29 to Oct. 5, according to the latest White House report. In comparison, 4,901 were hospitalized the previous week. The week before that, it was 6,526.
Nonetheless, COVID-19 could spike this winter or potentially combine with the flu to create what some are calling a ‘twindemic,’ motivating doctors to push vaccinations for both viruses.
Statewide, 13,718,950 residents, or 72% of people age 12 and up, have received at least one vaccination shot, including 11,339,967 who have completed their shot regimens through Oct. 7. Statewide, 131,218 received an additional dose last week, bringing the total to 625,221.
“Those who are unvaccinated remain the most vulnerable to infection, severe disease, hospitalization,” said Marcella Nunez-Smith, Chair of the President’s COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force, at a Sept. 28 White House briefing. “The best way to protect everyone, including, including those who are not yet eligible to be vaccinated, such as our children less than 12 is to vaccinate as many eligible people as possible.”
Central Florida added 5,452 resident infections this week, based on the actual date the state opened the case, for a total of 705,264: 1,616 more in Orange for 224,913; 522 more in Osceola for 70,591; 927 more in Polk for 126,806; 543 more in Lake for 53,476; 116 more in Sumter for 14,278; 727 more in Volusia for 74,234; 510 more in Brevard for 79,757; and 491 more in Seminole for 61,209.
AdventHealth Central Florida noted that the rate of positive tests in asymptomatic children has not dropped in recent weeks, unlike the rate of positive tests in symptomatic children and asymptomatic adults.
“The risk of acute COVID-19 in children can be quite serious, which is why we recommend eligible children receive the vaccine,” said Dr. Michael Keating, chief medical officer for AdventHealth for Children.
A recent study by Nikki Fried, Florida’s commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services and a candidate for governor, found that the rate of COVID-19 was nearly double in school districts that did not require masks.
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