Alachua County Health Department Director Paul Myers said sources of new cases of COVID-19 in the county are being linked back to household transmission, family and workplace holiday gatherings and bars and crowded indoor spaces.
Myers reported to the Board of County Commissioners that there have been 13,749 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Alachua County. Out of the 129,396 people tested, 10.4 percent have been positive and so far, 651 residents have been hospitalized and there have been 104 deaths as of Dec. 7th.
Myers attributes Alachua County’s low case and positivity rates to the high number of tests being administered.
“We’re doing very well in a lot of our metrics,” Myers said and compared County data to Florida data. Florida’s overall positivity rate is 13.81 percent while Alachua County’s is 10.4 percent. Florida’s hospitalization rate is 5.3 percent while Alachua County’s is 4.8 percent and the total death rate in the state is 1.81 percent with Alachua County’s at .77 percent, according to Myers.
Myers attributed the low death rate to Alachua County having the highest population of younger residents ages 15 to 24 in the state.
“But also we took very early protective actions in our long-term care facilities,” Myers said. “And we continue to make that a priority.”
The Alachua County case curve is a “bit concerning” Myers said referring to a spike in September. “It’s gone down, but it’s not relenting,” Myers said. “We are in a surge right now.”
“This is no time to let our guard down,” Myers said. “I hear a lot about how people are really tired of COVID,” Myers said. “But COVID is not tired of us.”
The goal of the community should be to flatten the curve, Myers said. “So when the vaccine does roll out, that’s been our aim all along. We do see the light at the end of the tunnel and to get there we try to flatten that curve as much as possible.”
Testing has increased monthly since June, and Myers encouraged anyone needing to be tested to call the Health Department for an appointment at 352-334-8810.
According to Myers the FDOH SW clinic testing is Mondays and Fridays. The Alachua Clinic is testing Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays and at the main FDOH site on SE 24th Avenue is testing Monday through Friday.
The FDOH has also increased capacity at the drive thru testing site Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, from 9 a.m.to noon and Wednesday evenings from 5 to 7:30 p.m.
COVID-19 patient hospitalizations are increasing, Myers said. “Unfortunately we have seen an increase over the last 30 days. Ninety five individuals with COVID-19 are currently hospitalized at Shands and North Florida as of Dec. 7th, he said.
“We have not reached the level of crisis care in Alachua County,” Myers said and defined that as when doctors are making decisions based on lack of resources.