ORLANDO, Fla. – Initial shipments of the second COVID-19 vaccine authorized in the U.S. left a distribution center Sunday, a desperately needed boost as the nation works to bring the coronavirus pandemic under control.
The trucks left the factory in the Memphis area with the vaccine developed by Moderna Inc. and the National Institutes of Health. The much-needed shots are expected to be given starting Monday, just three days after the Food and Drug Administration authorized their emergency rollout.
Also on Sunday, an expert committee will debate who should be next in line for early doses of the Moderna vaccine and a similar one from Pfizer Inc. and Germany’s BioNTech. Pfizer’s shots were first shipped out a week ago and started being used the next day, kicking off the nation’s biggest vaccination drive.
Public health experts say the shots — and others in the pipeline — are the only way to stop a virus that has been spreading wildly. Nationwide, more than 219,000 people per day on average test positive for the virus, which has killed at least 314,000 in the U.S. and upwards of 1.7 million worldwide.
Just one day earlier, Johns Hopkins researchers on Saturday reported a record 249,709 new cases of COVID-19 in one day.
The Pfizer and Moderna shots shipped so far and going out over the next few weeks are nearly all going to health care workers and residents of long-term care homes, based on the advice of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.
That panel meets Sunday to debate who should get the doses available after those early shots are given.
There won’t be enough shots for the general population until spring, so doses will be rationed at least for the next several months, including in Florida, where the state health department just began releasing a daily report on the number of vaccines administered statewide.
On Saturday, when the daily report made its debut, Florida health officials said more than 32,000 people had already been vaccinated in the less than one week since Pfizer’s vaccine arrived in the Sunshine State.
Gov. Ron DeSantis said earlier this week that Florida plans to receive 367,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine over the next several days, spread out among nearly 200 hospitals across the state who did not receive the Pfizer vaccine.
While the vaccines are providing hope to Floridians and countless others across the U.S., health officials are still urging Americans not to let their guards down and to continue practicing CDC guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Health officials are also urging people to stay home and avoid large gatherings for the holidays. Those who do have plans to travel are encouraged to get tested for the novel coronavirus multiple times.
#NOW: Current wait time for @FLSERT #Covid_19 Test Site @OCCC Orlando: about 2 hours— Florida Association of Public Information Officers (@FloridaPIOs) December 20, 2020
✔Have a full tank of gas
✔Use restroom before coming out
✔Make sure your windows fully open and close
✔Save time & preregister at https://t.co/4dmQudF3LY before coming out pic.twitter.com/wvfufsuxK5
The demand for testing in Central Florida appears to be holding strong ahead of the Christmas holiday.
The wait time at the Orange County Convention Center COVID-19 testing site around noon Sunday was about two hours.
[READ YESTERDAY’S REPORT: Florida reports 11,450 new COVID-19 cases as US rolls out second vaccine]
Below is a breakdown of cases, recent deaths, hospitalizations and Florida’s positivity rate reported by the state on Dec. 20:
The Florida Department of Health reported 8,158 new cases on Sunday, bringing the state’s overall total to 1,201,566 cases since March.
Editor’s note: Along with the resources previously utilized by News 6 (state and county-by-county data), as of Dec. 7, WKMG has added state data pulled from the Florida Department of Health’s Florida COVID19 State Testing Totals. This new dataset includes the number of people tested the day prior, which is the number public health officials use to calculate the state’s daily positivity rate.
Florida reported 97 new virus deaths Sunday. This means at least 20,861 people have died in relation to the coronavirus across the state, including 293 non-residents who died in Florida.
As of Sunday afternoon, there are currently 5,236 people with the virus hospitalized in Florida, according to the state Agency for Health Care Administration, an increase by about 144 patients within 24 hours.
Since March, 59,995 people have been hospitalized in Florida after complications from the coronavirus. That number includes the 144 people who have been recently hospitalized due to the virus, according to the health department’s daily report.
The positivity rate for the 103,121 tests reported Sunday was 7.91%. This statistic is the number of people who tested positive for the first time based on test results reported to the state Saturday.
The Florida Department of Health recently began releasing a daily report on COVID-19 vaccines administered throughout the state. As of Sunday, 40,037 people have been vaccinated in Florida, about 7,330 more than the previous day.
See COVID-19 data for the Central Florida region below:
|County||Cases||New cases||Hospitalizations||New Hospitalizations||Deaths||New deaths|
The Associated Press and Brianna Volz contributed to this report.