JACKSONVILLE, Florida – Florida took another troubling milestone this week, surpassing 9,000 coronavirus-related deaths of residents and staff in long-term care facilities – the vast majority involving seniors in nursing homes and assisted living facilities .
The state added 156 more COVID-19-related deaths statewide in data released by the Florida Department of Health on Saturday. More than 25,500 Florida residents and visitors to the state have died from the virus, according to state data.
Overall, Florida has the fourth highest death toll from COVID-19 in the country, behind New York, California and Texas, according to a Johns Hopkins University website that tracks data on the pandemic.
Among the deaths reported Saturday in Florida, there were five in St. Johns County (151 total), four in Putnam (96) and three in Bradford (35). Duval County reported the most deaths among the 11 counties News4Jax followed in Florida with 863.
Florida reported an additional 12,311 cases on Saturday, bringing the state’s total to 1,639,914 since the pandemic began last year.
The number of cases and deaths increased during the fall and winter.
Governor Ron DeSantis has pinned his COVID-19 strategy on vaccinations, focusing on people aged 65 or older who face particular health dangers from the virus. In an appearance on Fox News on Friday, DeSantis said it has given at least the first doses of the vaccine to nearly one million seniors.
“We said the elders first. This is something that we need to focus on, the population 65 and over, ”DeSantis said. “There are healthy young workers receiving it in other states. God bless them, but I want to protect our vulnerable. “
But vaccine stocks remain limited and older people continue to make up most of the people who die from the virus.
According to Friday’s tally, 20,797 of Florida resident deaths involved people aged 65 or older. This represented 83% of all deaths – a percentage that has remained relatively unchanged for months.
Long-term care-related deaths are also another indicator of the toll the pandemic continues to take on seniors.
With 85 additional long-term care deaths reported on Friday, the total reached 9,097 – or about 36% of all deaths of state residents. As another indicator, more than 100 long-term care-related deaths have been reported in 26 of the state’s 67 counties since the start of the pandemic.
There have been at least 70,000 hospitalizations of residents attributed to the novel coronavirus in Florida since the outbreak began, and the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration on Saturday afternoon reported 6,707 currently hospitalized with a diagnosis. primary COVID-19 – up from 7,367 people at the start of the week.
At least 1,328,175 vaccines have been administered in Florida, and 151,447 people in the state have received the two necessary vaccines, but some vaccination sites have had to close because they have used up their quotas and continued frustration from skilled people who do not have not been. was able to get an appointment for a photo shoot.
But officials are trying to ramp up coronavirus vaccinations as concern spreads over a new, more contagious variant that could gain a foothold in the state.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Florida had 46 confirmed cases of the most transmissible strain of COVID-19 on Sunday, eclipsing California with 40 confirmed cases at last count. The strain was first detected in the UK in December and has started to spread around the world.
Early evidence seems to indicate that the new strain is no more deadly than the earlier strains that sickened nearly 24.2 million people in the United States and killed over 400,000. Florida is now approaching 1, 6 million confirmed cases, with nearly 10,000 new cases and about 160 additional deaths reported on Tuesday. To date, the state has reported more than 24,400 virus-related deaths.
“This new strain is more contagious, and that means more people will be infected,” said Dr. Frederick Southwick, professor of medicine and infectious disease specialist at the University of Florida. “If we had a problem, we will have more now. ”
Communities across the country are battling rising infections as they wait for more doses of two vaccines approved for use against the virus.
“The action plan is what it was before: vaccinate as many people as possible, as quickly as possible, try to really crush this virus and reduce the total number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths,” said said Dr Glenn Morris, Director. from the Institute of Emerging Pathogens at the University of Florida.
The Associated Press and News Service of Florida contributed to this report.
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