FDOH: COVID numbers trending in right direction

The pandemic numbers are all going in the right direction, according to the Alachua County Health Department.

COVID-19 vaccinations are increasing and new cases and hospitalizations are decreasing, Paul Myers, administrator for Florida Department of Health in Alachua County, told the Alachua Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) on Tuesday.

“It’s been quite a year and a half,” said Myers, who made the presentation sans face mask. “But we still have a lot of work to do.”

In a county of 269,000 residents, 53 percent of those ages 12 and up are vaccinated, Myers reported. And 82 percent of residents 65 and older have been vaccinated.

Myers said since the pandemic started in March last year, 552,029 COVID-19 tests have been administered to 190,630 residents. 

There have been 25,304 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Alachua County, 1,258 residents were hospitalized and 281 people lost their lives to the virus.

But even with the 126,881 vaccines administered—19,785 first doses and 107,096 completed series—Myers said there are a lot of people left to vaccinate.

The goal for school clinics is to administer the second doses for ages 12 and up before the school year ends, Myers said, but there will be vaccine clinics for schools over the summer.

Myers listed the 30 places to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in Alachua County, including CVS, Walgreen, Winn Dixie, Hitchcock’s and Publix, the clinics at the county health department, and UF Health, plus the homebound vaccine programs carried out by the Gainesville Fire Rescue and Alachua County Fire Rescue crews.

Currently in Alachua County, there is a 3.8 percent positivity rate from May 10 to May 23 with 368 cases and four deaths.

“Cases per 100,000 are going down every day,” Myers said.

The average daily vaccination rate for Alachua County is at 750 over the last two weeks.

Myers reported 54 breakthrough cases, which accounts for .04 percent of all vaccinated residents. Breakthrough cases are defined as happening 14 days after full vaccination when someone is exposed to COVID-19 and tests positive.

“A majority of those 54 breakthrough cases have been asymptomatic and only one that I am aware of that has been hospitalized,” Myers said. “This just speaks to the efficacy of this vaccine. The data is becoming very clear to us that this vaccine not only prevents illness, but it prevents infection.”

Speaking about the face mask issue, Myers said, “If you are fully vaccinated your risk of becoming ill is very low, and your risk of transmitting the disease is very low.”

Myers reported that COVID-19 is still spreading in Alachua County at a rate of less than 20 cases per day. The median age of cases is in the upper 20s and 30s age groups, Myers said.

Of the 122 cases of COVID-19 variants being identified in Alachua County residents, Myers reported that more than 80 percent are the UK variant and the Brazillian and South African variants make up the rest.

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