Governor DeSantis: 'Vaccines are saving lives'

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COVID-19 infections in Florida continued to increase last week, with 73,199 new cases July 16-22 (compared to 45,603 the previous week), according to the Florida Department of Health report released July 23.

The state continues to struggle with low vaccination rates and the spread of the highly contagious delta variant.

"If you are vaccinated, fully vaccinated,  the chance of you getting seriously ill or dying from covid is effectively zero," Governor Ron DeSantis said in a July 20, 2021 news conference. "If you look at the people who are being admitted to the hospital, over 95% of them are either not fully vaccinated or not vaccinated at all. Those vaccines are saving lives."

DeSantis, who has been vaccinated,  said there is no need for mask mandates or another lock down because vaccines are widely available.

Florida leads the nation in new COVID-19 infections.

People are dying needlessly, according to U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy, who has issued warnings about vaccine misinformation being spread on social media. According to Murthy, 99% of recent covid deaths were unvaccinated persons.

Florida had a new case positivity rate of 15.1% for the week (compared to 11.5% previous week). Statewide 60% of those over age 12 have been vaccinated with at least one shot. According to FDOH, 11,469,755 Floridians have received at least one dose of vaccine and  9,914,406 are fully vaccinated.

FDOH releases weekly summaries of vaccination rates and new cases by county. Daily reports, hospitalizations by county and deaths by county are no longer reported by FDOH.

For July 16-22, there were 78 new COVID-19 deaths in Florida (compared to 59 the previous week). The FDOH summary does not list where the deaths were. Since the pandemic began 38,670 Floridians have died related to the virus.

While vaccines are free and available through most pharmacies, vaccination rates in some areas continue to stay well below the national and state averages.

In South Central Florida, for the week of July 16-22:

• Collier County: 66% of those over age 12 are vaccinated; 14.0% new positivity rate; 867 new cases for the week (compared to 659 previous week);

• Glades County: 42% of those over age 12 vaccinated; 19.2% new positivity rate; 10 new cases for the week (compared 10 the previous week);

• Hendry County: 44% of those over age 12 vaccinated; 10.5% new positivity rate; 59 new cases for the week (compared to 55 previous week);

• Highlands County: 53% of those over age 12 vaccinated; 12.5% new positivity rate; 150 new cases for the week (compared to 113 previous week);

• Martin County: 60% of persons over age 12 vaccinated; 19.3% new positivity rate; 473 new cases for the week (compared to 357 previous week);

• Okeechobee County: 39% of persons over age 12 vaccinated; 11.3% new positivity rate ; 68 new cases for the week (compared to 60 previous week);

• Palm Beach County: 14% of persons over age 12 vaccinated; 12.5% new case positivity rate; 3,972 new cases for the week (compared to 2,483 previous week).

Florida has more than 1,000 vaccine distribution sites for eligible residents. Vaccines are free at all locations. To find COVID-19 testing or vaccination sites, go online to floridahealthcovid19.gov.

According to the Centers for the Disease Control, those who are fully vaccinated can be reasonably safe going out in public without a mask. Masks should be worn indoors by all individuals (age 2 and older) who are not fully vaccinated, the CDC warns. Consistent and correct mask use by people who are not fully vaccinated is especially important indoors and in crowded settings, when physical distancing cannot be maintained.

According  the Centers for Disease Control, the COVID-19 delta variant is now the dominant strain in the United States. The delta variant is 60% more contagious than the original strain, according to the World Health Organization.

Nationwide, COVID-19 cases numbers continue to fall in areas with higher rates of COVID-19 vaccinations, and rise in areas with lower vaccination rates.

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