Alachua COVID-19 cases, vaccinations on rise

Newly vaccinated Alachua County residents more than doubled last week, but so did the number of COVID-19 cases per capita.

The Florida Department of Health in Alachua County (DOH) starts vaccinating children ages 5 to 11 on Monday. Local pediatricians and pharmacies got a head start after the vaccine was deemed safe by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Nov. 2.

New cases per 100,000 residents in Alachua County are on the rise from 38.9 last week to 64.9 this week. The positivity rate for the county is also increasing up to 2.5 percent from 2 percent last week and cases rose from 106 last week to 177 this week, according to the DOH.

The vaccine rate for Alachua County now incorporates the 5- to 11-year-old population which lowers the rate from 70 percent to 65 percent. But the DOH reports that administered vaccines rose from 614 the week of Oct. 29 to Nov. 4 to 1,484 for the week of Nov. 5 to Nov. 11.

As a result of the new data, the CDC considers Alachua County to have substantial community transmission because the cases per 100,000 fall between 50 and 99.99.

A look at the entire U.S. map on the CDC site shows the Southeast with the most moderate transmission rates in the country and a majority of states falling in the high transmission category with cases per 100,000 coming in at 100 or more.

According to the DOH Weekly Situation Report, Alachua County ranks as the fourth highest in cases per capita in Florida with Monroe County coming in the highest with 117.9, Madison County at 77.7, Miami-Dade County at 72.8 and Alachua County at 64.9.

On Wednesday, the School Board of Alachua County (SBAC) noted the 2 percent positivity rate as part of its reason for agreeing to comply with the DOH Emergency Rule 64DER21-15 which allows parents to opt out their children from wearing face masks in school.

Alachua County’s monoclonal site used to treat COVID-19 patients at Fellowship Church in High Springs will shut down after opening its doors Aug. 24.

The DOH reported that the supply of the monoclonal treatment will now shift from the state to local providers such as North Florida Regional Medical Center, UF Health Shands and Infectious Disease Associates and Travel Medicine.

The DOH reported on Friday that 3 percent of the 5- to 11-year-old population in the state is vaccinated.

According to Paul Myers, administrator for DOH in Alachua County, the DOH pre-booked its order for vaccines to be administered to newly eligible children ages 5-11 and he is working with the ACPS to set up vaccination clinics.

Until then, Myers told the Alachua County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) at Tuesday’s regular meeting, parents can make appointments with their local pediatricians who have already received their doses. Area CVS and Walgreens pharmacies are also taking appointments and administering the lower dose to children.

Once COVID-19 student consent forms are distributed and filled out by parents and guardians, the DOH will notify the Alachua County Public Schools (ACPS) of clinic dates.

CDC COVID-19 U.S. tracker
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