Alachua County is working with local hospitals to publish daily COVID-19 data that includes adult and pediatric hospitalizations, percentage of admitted patients who are unvaccinated, and ambulance transports.
"Alachua County is fortunate to have a robust regional hospital system and we enjoy the benefits of an excellent partnership," Alachua County Fire Rescue Chief Harold Theus said in a Friday statement announcing the enhanced data. "Over the last few days staff from the County and the hospitals have worked together and have been finding solutions for this unprecedented crisis."
As COVID-19 cases continue to rise, the vaccination rate in Alachua County is sharply rising along with it. The dashboard shows weekly vaccinations in Alachua County went from 873 during the week of July 16, to 1,220 during the week of July 23, then doubled to 2,451 during the week of July 30 and rose to 3,060 vaccinations this week.
The enhanced dashboard shows more than 90 percent of COVID-19 patients admitted to local hospitals are unvaccinated, which is in line with national trends. The dashboard also includes hospital census counts for COVID-19 patients, which numbered 373 through Friday.
Theus said the information will help local residents make informed decisions.
"Our community Emergency Rooms are open if you need them, but please keep in mind they are seeing patient numbers that are unprecedented in our area," he said.
As of noon on Saturday, Alachua County remains at a high level of transmission and under a state of emergency, which Alachua County Commission Chair Ken Cornell declared on Thursday. According to the emergency action, a high level of transmission is defined as "100 or more cases for every 100,000 people and/or lab test positivity rate for COVID that is 10 percent or higher."
The dashboard shows the positivity rate for the week of Aug. 6 was 14.6 percent for the second week in a row, with 519.9 cases per 100,000 residents. That's a major increase from last month, when the positivity rate for the week of July 9 was 5.3 percent.
The increase in available data comes after state and local officials expressed frustration at receiving weekly reports from the Florida Department of Health as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations climbed to record numbers.
On the state level, Nikki Fried, the Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services, began reporting daily COVID-19 figures on her Facebook page. On Friday, she said there were 22,783 new cases in Florida in the last 24 hours, the highest single day count since the pandemic began, a 33 percent increase from the day before, and 199 COVID-19 patients died in the last 24 hours.
Fried said Florida had 13,127 COVID-19 patients hospitalized on Aug. 5 and about 25 percent of all cases in the United States.