County Health: Alachua well below state average in COVID-19 cases and deaths

Alachua County’s COVID-19 positivity and mortality rates are about half of what the State of Florida reports as of May 11, according to the administrator for the Florida Department of Health (FDOH) in Alachua County

In a presentation to the Board of County Commissioners on Tuesday, Alachua County FDOH Administrator Paul Myers reported that Alachua County COVID-19 tests are resulting in 3.5% positive with the state measuring 7.3 percent and the mortality rate for the county is 1.56 percent while the Florida’s overall is 4.23 percent.

“I attribute that to the wonderful medical industry that we have here in Alachua County,” Myers said about the mortality rate.

“And I would say our proactive approach to this disease in Alachua County where we have beaten a lot of the policies that have come out by the State by several weeks,” Myers added.

As of May 12th there were 325 cases of COVID-19 in Alachua County.

But Myers said he expects that the number of positive cases will increase because of more testing and testing for all in Alachua County now in effect.

“While we may have flattened the curve, with the increased testing, it would not surprise me that we may see an increase in cases,” he said. “We are really increasing testing in Alachua County.

The average age of positive cases is between 60 and 69, Myers noted.

“We are a relatively healthy county in comparison to the rest of the state and we hope these hospitalizations will continue to be minimized,” he said about the hospitalization rate of a cumulative count standing at 59 over several months.

Myers said less contact tracing has been needed for recent positive cases.

What this tells us is that the number of contacts per confirmed case has significantly gone down over time and I think that this may be due, in part, to the public health messaging that we have put out there.

“Stay home when you’re ill and stay away from ill people,” Myers said is the message being heard by Alachua County citizens. 

“Our residents have done a great job doing that, and it’s demonstrated with the number of contacts per case,” he said.

The focus on the county health department now moves to increasing testing which includes plans to take testing out to remote parts of the county.

“Our supply chains for the testing material continue to be solid,” Myers said. “And we’ll continue to pursue every supply chain possible to continue.

Myers said there is a downward trajectory of visitors to hospitals reporting influenza-like illnesses and Covid-like syndromic cases. 

Myers said that local hospitals are at 25% capacity up from 10% because elective surgeries have started, but said that hospitals can control the number of surgeries and hospital capacity and bring that number down at any time.

Myers gave out the phone number to call to schedule a COVID-19 test to all interested residents (352)-334-8810 and for those who have been tested at the FDOH the number for results after two days is (352)-334-8828.

On Wednesday evenings from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. testing is now available by calling (352)-334-8810.

Commissioners use the data presented by Myers as they move forward with decisions pertaining to the emergency order restrictions such as face mask use and capacity rates in stores and businesses.

Commissioners debated whether to make changes to County Emergency Order 2020-21 at the meeting but decided to wait to make the next amendments when Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced details of the Phase 2 plan for reopening.

They said they would be open to increasing the group gathering capacity from 10 to possibly 50 and changing the face coverings requirement wording from “shall” to should making it a voluntary safety measure.

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