Alachua County sets record with 6,524 COVID cases

Coronavirus concept
Coronavirus concept

New cases of COVID-19 this week broke all records in Alachua County and made the county one of the hottest spots in the state of Florida.

According to state data released late Friday, Florida recorded 430,297 new cases for the week of Jan. 7 to Jan. 13, with 6,524 of those reported in Alachua County.

For the first time Alachua County’s cases per 100,000 population has passed that of the state’s, ranking third highest out of 67 counties. Florida’s cases per 100,000 are at 1,958 while Alachua County is at 2,392 per 100,000.

Dade County tops the list for cases per 100,000 report with 3,216, followed by Broward County with 2,452. Dade County reported 93,877 new cases in the last week, while Broward County reported 48,216.

Despite the high numbers, the omicron surge did show signs of peaking, as UF experts predicted it would around the middle of January. New cases for those between the ages of 20 and 59 leveled off or even dropped, while new cases for children and those over age 60 continued to rise sharply. 

In contrast to Alachua County numbers, neighboring Gilchrist County reported 201 cases and 1,103 cases per 100,000. Levy County reported 630 new cases and 1,505 cases per 100,000. Columbia County reported 1,174 new cases and 1,646 cases per 100,000. Suwannee County had 631 and 1,356 cases per 100,000.

Union County recorded 271 new cases and 1,747 cases per 100,000. It was also one of only three counties in the state with a positivity rate above 40 percent. 

Alachua County Public Schools (ACPS) ended the week with 997 students and 197 staff COVID-19 cases over the past 10 days, according to the district’s COVID-19 dashboard. ACPS spokesperson Jackie Johnson said the school has no plans to alter its schedule after the Monday holiday. 

As of Jan. 13 ACPS reported that 1,556 students are in quarantine, or 5.7 percent, which is approaching the record high of 1,809 students in quarantine on Aug. 27 during the delta variant surge.

Daily reports of late buses due to staffing shortages ranged from 37 to 49 buses, and some were listed as 90 minutes or longer behind schedule.

Although COVID-19 hospitalizations have risen in recent weeks, they are still only about half of what they were during the delta variant surge. 

On Tuesday Alachua County reinstated a vaccine incentive as the COVID-19 surge peaks.

Paul Myers, administrator of the health department in Alachua County, said because COVID-19 cases are impacting the workforce, schools, healthcare, and across society, he said he recommends wearing KN-95 face masks, “If you are going to be indoors for a prolonged time.”

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