ORLANDO, Fla. – Florida seniors, and seasonal residents, are experiencing technical issues and long wait times attempting to get their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine in the final days of the year as the Department of Health continues to report increasing COVID-19 infections and the state is experiencing its highest virus hospitalizations since this summer.
On Tuesday, Florida reported its highest positivity rate for new infections in months at nearly 23%. For months, Florida has reported an infection rate under the CDC advised 10%. Previously, Florida’s highest positivity rate was on July 8 at over 19%. The Department of Health attributed the rate to less people being tested due to holiday closures and warned the rate may remain high for days to come until after the new year.
“These reduced hours and closures have resulted in less people tested and delays in result processing and reporting which have impacted Florida’s daily testing number by nearly half,” the DOH said in a statement. “As we continue to experience office closures and holidays through January 4, 2021, it is possible that data may continue to be impacted over the coming days.”
Meanwhile, more than 6,300 hospital beds across Florida are occupied by persons with the coronavirus. Several weeks ago, that number was half that, although the current hospitalizations are not near the 10,000 or more Florida saw during the summer.
[READ YESTERDAY’S REPORT: Florida reports highest infection rate yet, more than 11,800 new COVID-19 cases]
Across Florida, residents 65 and older, who are the most vulnerable, are also anxiously awaiting word on when they’ll be able to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. All 67 Florida counties should have their first doses of the Moderna or Pfzier vaccines by the end of the week, according to Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Most counties across the Central Florida region plan to start vaccinating seniors either later this week or in early January. You can read more about their plans here.
However, people over 65 who have called or logged on to make a vaccine appointment have experienced disconnections and other technical glitches. Health department officials are urging patience as Florida is home to more than 4 million people who meet this age requirement and aren’t living in long-term care facilities.
Seniors who became the first to get vaccinated at the Orange County Convention Center Tuesday waited hours, including some in the wrong line as the convention center is also still providing large scale COVID-19 testing.
“The process was fine, it took about three hours for me, but the consequences are certainly worth it,” Don Lavery, who got his first vaccine shot Tuesday, said.
Kent Donahue, with the Florida Department of Health, said he is asking residents to be patient as they navigate the unprecedented rollout. He said the vaccination response on day one was overwhelming.
The OCCC vaccine registration portal closed Tuesday after more than 30,000 people made appointments. The Orange County DOH plans to reopen it in the coming days.
Below is a breakdown of Florida COVID-19 data reported by the state on Dec. 30:
The Florida Department of Health reported 13,495 new cases on Wednesday, bringing the state’s overall total to 1,306,123 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 139 new virus deaths Wednesday. This means at least 21,857 people have died in relation to the coronavirus across the state, including 311 non-residents who died in Florida.
As of Wednesday afternoon, there are currently 6,298 people with the virus hospitalized in Florida, according to the state Agency for Health Care Administration.
Since March, 62,508 people have been hospitalized in Florida after complications from the coronavirus. That number includes the 366 people who have been recently hospitalized due to the virus, according to the health department’s daily report.
The percent of positive results ranged from 7.90% to 22.75% during the past two weeks and was 8.72% Tuesday. This reflected the 13,495 positive cases reported out of 154,743 tests reported to the state.
The Florida Department of Health recently began releasing a daily report on COVID-19 vaccines administered throughout the state. As of Wednesday, 175,465 people have been vaccinated in Florida.
See COVID-19 data for the Central Florida region below:
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