COVID cases, hospitalizations continue to plummet

Area COVID-19 positive cases and hospitalizations are nearing early January numbers and continue to trend downward.

The omicron variant that hit the U.S. in November started affecting the region in early December and reached its peak in early January, but area hospitals finally started seeing patient decreases in the last two weeks.

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On Monday, UF Health Shands Hospital reported 69 COVID-positive patients with 26 in either the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) or Intermediate Care Unit (IMC), and five pediatric cases with one in the ICU. UF Shands continues to also treat 73 patients who started COVID-positive but are now no longer infectious. 

 “We continue to see a decline in COVID-19 positive patients needing care in our hospital and this downward trend remains encouraging,” Ed Jimenez, UF Health Shands CEO, said in an email statement to Mainstreet Daily News. “While this is good news, there are still people getting sick. Vaccines and boosters are the best defense against hospitalization and we advocate for our community to get vaccinated or boosted when eligible.”

On Feb. 14, UF Health Shands Hospital reported 108 COVID-positive patients with 32 in either the ICU or IMC, including eight pediatrics cases and two in the ICU. On Jan. 24, Shands reported 181 cases with 58 in the ICU/IMC, along with eight pediatric patients.

North Florida Regional Medical Center’s  Monday count included 55 COVID-positive patients with four in the ICU—down from 88 COVID-positive patients with six in the ICU on Feb. 14 and 130 cases and 14 in the ICU on Jan. 31.

“Our team is encouraged to see the continued decline of COVID-19 positive patients being admitted at our hospital and in our community,” Dr. Sean Benoit, North Florida Regional’s CMO, said in a statement emailed to Mainstreet Daily News. “Just because COVID-19 hospitalizations and infections are dropping in our community, does not mean it is time to put our guard down. It is important to remember that the omicron variant is still highly transmissible and we should continue to follow infection prevention best practices.”

Friday’s Florida Department of Health (FDOH) COVID-19 Weekly Situation Report revealed 42,473 new cases statewide, down from a high of 427,633 on Jan. 7. Alachua County tallied 640 new positive cases last week while seeing the vaccination rate remain at 70 percent.   

Vaccination rates in local counties: 

  • Union 55 percent
  • Levy 54 percent
  • Bradford 48 percent
  • Columbia 47 percent
  • Gilchrist 44 percent
  • Dixie 41 percent
  • Suwannee 41 percent

Statewide, vaccinations are at 74 percent and 76.1 percent nationwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

In the past 10 days, the Alachua County Public Schools COVID-19 Dashboard reported 78 new COVID-positive cases for students and seven staff.


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