By: April Carson
As of Friday morning, every Florida county is now experiencing the "high" COVID-19 case transmission level owing to the newly dominant BA.5 Omicron subvariant.
"This is a very significant increase in the number of Floridians who are infected with COVID-19," said Scott Gottlieb, former FDA commissioner and a CBS News contributor. "It's likely that this variant is driving a good deal of the surge we're seeing in Florida right now."
According to the COVID-19 Community Level metrics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which are updated each Thursday, that's what they show.
In Miami-Dade County, the rate of new cases per 100,000 people has climbed to 357. In Broward County, it's up to 283. And in Palm Beach County, it's now at 247.
"Clearly, this variant is spreading very rapidly through Florida," Gottlieb said. "And I think it's going to be increasingly difficult for the state to bring their numbers down."
The CDC's Rochelle Walensky said that the country had seen a dramatic increase in hospital visits since early May.
The omicron subvariants, according to officials, are known as BA.4 and BA.5. They have been on the rise. “We don't know yet how severe BA.4 and BA.5 are in comparison to our previous omicron subvariants, but we do know that they're more transmissible and immune evading,” said Walensky during the briefing's transcript.
All of the Northeast Florida counties that make up the Jacksonville area -- Baker, Bradford, Columbia, Clay, Duval, Nassau, St. Johns, and Union -- are classified as "high."
The following three counties are also part of the Jacksonville metropolitan area: Brantley, Camden, and Charlton in Georgia's Southeast, as well as Glynn in South Carolina.
Sumter and Glynn, two other Southeast Georgia counties that are part of the Jacksonville region, have a “medium” transmission level.
With hospital visits and case counts increasing at such a rate, the CDC in the United States now advises indoor masking in almost every part of Florida to avoid strain on local medical services.
Although there are a few significant exceptions, such as Collier County - home to Naples - along with Glades and Flagler counties, and portions of the western Panhandle, most of Florida is covered by this map.
The CDC's new indoor masking guidance comes as Florida grapples with a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases. Hospitalizations have increased by more than 50% over the last two weeks, and case counts have more than doubled in that time.
Once a week, the Georgia Department of Public Health updates its statistics. This week's figures from Georgia show that COVID-19 infections are up 24%, from 15,394 to 19,097, compared to the previous seven days.
Despite this, hospitalizations in Georgia remain modest, according to our sister station WSB-TV in Atlanta. According to the GDOH, there are just over 1,200 COVID-19 patients at Georgian hospitals. That's less than 7.5% of all hospitalized persons in the state.
The CDC estimates that about 7,000 people were infected in the United States during the 2016-'17 season. Of those infected, 440 had not been vaccinated or had only received one dose of vaccination, 135 had only gotten one vaccine dose, and 155 had received two vaccine doses.
Every two weeks, on Fridays, the Florida Department of Health provides COVID-19 data.
The most recent statistics, which were released on July 1, revealed a 19.4 percent new case positivity rate. The number of COVID cases during the week of June 17 was 73,780. The number of cases rose again the following week (June 24), this time by just 0.95%.
The overall number of COVID-19 cases in Florida is now 391,197. The state has seen 6,246 deaths attributed to the virus. Of those who have contracted the virus, 55,629 have been hospitalized at some point during their illness.
The Department of Health and Human Services released statistics on Wednesday that showed that 4,322 Florida inpatients had COVID-19, up from 4,168 the previous day.
In addition, according to the new data, 437 Floridians with COVID-19 were in intensive care units, compared to 408 individuals the day before.
During the week of June 24, according to FDOH statistics, 52,657 vaccines were given in Florida.
Because of executive orders and laws signed by Governor Ron DeSantis last year, cities, counties, and schools in Florida are unable to impose indoor face mask rules.
The state has also been criticized for its decision to reopen bars and allow restaurants to operate at full capacity.
Last week, DeSantis said that Florida would not roll back its reopening amid a surge in COVID-19 cases. "We're not shutting down, we're going to go forward," he said. "And I think that's the smartest thing to do."
In April, a Trump-appointed federal judge struck down the CDC's restrictions on masks for trains, planes, and buses. Airlines are still required to enforce the rule.
In May, the CDC relaxed its guidance on face coverings, saying that people who are fully vaccinated can go without a mask in most indoor and outdoor settings.
The change came as more than half of US adults had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
However, the agency still recommends that unvaccinated people wear masks in public.
A Tear In The Sky Billy Carson With Caroline Cory
About the Blogger:
April Carson is the daughter of Billy Carson. She received her bachelor's degree in Social Sciences from Jacksonville University, where she was also on the Women's Basketball team. She now has a successful clothing company that specializes in organic baby clothes and other items. Take a look at their most popular fall fashions on bossbabymav.com
To read more of April's blogs, check out her website! She publishes new blogs on a daily basis, including the most helpful mommy advice and baby care tips! Follow on IG @bossbabymav
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