COVID cases continue modest rise

Alachua County COVID-positive cases increased 17.2% since May 20 and local hospitalizations slightly escalated over the past week.

According to the Florida Department of Health’s (FDOH) bi-weekly COVID report released on Friday, positive cases increased in Alachua County to 860 since the previous report on May 20. Statewide, the numbers have escalated from 60,129 to 71,797. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now has Alachua County and 22 other Florida counties listed as a “high risk” level of transmission. Two weeks ago, only nine Florida counties—including Alachua—were considered high risk

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“[On Monday], we are providing care to 18 COVID-19 positive patients, with one of these patients receiving ICU-level care,” said Dr. Sean Benoit, Florida HCA North Florida Hospital Medical Center’s chief medical officer, in an emailed statement. “We have begun to experience a small increase in the number of COVID-19 patients requiring care. However, the cases are milder, and receiving the COVID-19 vaccine remains the most effective way of reducing severe illness from the virus.”

On May 31, North Florida Hospital reported 18 COVID-positive patients with one non-ventilated person in the ICU.

At UF Shands Hospital, the numbers are also up with 47 COVID-related admitted patients, including 39 positive cases, 14 in the ICU or IMC, and eight no longer COVID-positive but still hospitalized, as of Monday morning. 

“We are currently seeing increasing cases in Alachua County,” said Dr. Stephen Kimmel, UF College of Public Health and Health Professions dean’s professor and chair in the department of epidemiology, in an emailed statement. “Because a lot of testing is now being done at home and not reported, it is very hard to quantify exactly the number of new cases. But, so far, we have not seen a real surge in hospitalizations which is good news.”

UF Shands reported 25 COVID-positive cases with five in either the ICU or IMC on May 31, including one pediatrics patient.

The current outbreak remains smaller than the omicron surge in January where 30.7% of Alachua County tested positive and hospitalizations shot up over 300.  

According to the June 3 FDOH report, North Central Florida counties logged the following cases and positivity rates over the last two-week period:

  • Alachua County – 860 positive cases (315.3 cases per 100,000 population)
  • Columbia County – 102 (143.1)
  • Levy County – 73 (174.4)
  • Suwannee County – 58 (124.7)
  • Bradford County – 31 (107.2)
  • Gilchrist County – 29 (159.2)
  • Dixie County – 16 (95.6)
  • Union County – 8 (51.6)

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