ORLANDO, Fla. – The Florida Department of Health reported more than 12,000 new COVID-19 infections Saturday as it put its new telephone vaccine appointment system to the test.
The FDOH launched a pilot program of the system in an effort to support local counties with the high demand for coronavirus vaccines. It’s a system Gov. Ron DeSantis had been hinting toward for the past few weeks, as he’s crisscrossed the state expanding Pubix’s vaccination program saying the hotline is part of the state’s strategy to put “seniors first.”
According to the Broward health department tweet, people 65 and older, along with frontline healthcare workers, can call (866) 201-6313 to request an appointment. Those with hearing impairments can call (833) 476-1526.
News 6 called the number to see how the hotline works.
The system offers directions in English and Spanish. An automated voice asks the caller a series of questions to check for eligibility, asking callers if they are health care workers or 65 or older.
People are also prompted to enter their birth date, phone number and zip code so the hotline can help connect the caller to a nearby vaccination site. If there is no vaccine availability, the automated voice says it will call the number entered when there is vaccine availability in the caller’s area.
State officials said a phone system was more suited for seniors, who might be less accustomed to web-based technology and might need more assistance.
As the hotline continues to be formally rolled out, Florida is working to make sure its vaccines are for residents only.
In a two-page advisory signed by Florida Surgeon General Scott Rivkees, the state Health Department noted that the “vaccine remains scarce with the United States and vaccine availability in Florida is extremely limited.”
As a result, Rivkees issued a public health advisory that directs “prioritization of Floridians for COVID-19 vaccine in Florida.”
That means vaccine providers must confirm whether a shot recipient is a permanent or seasonal resident by providing a driver’s license or a host of other documents, including rental leases and utility bills as spelled out by the state Health Department.
To find out if you’re eligible for a vaccine in Florida, click here.
[READ YESTERDAY’S REPORT: Virus death toll surpasses 25,000 amid Florida’s rollout of COVID-19 vaccine system]
Below is a breakdown of Florida COVID-19 data reported by the state on Jan. 23.
The Florida Department of Health reported 12,157 new cases on Saturday, bringing the state’s overall total to 1,639,914 cases since the coronavirus pandemic began in March.
Florida reported 156 new virus-related deaths Saturday, raising the death toll to 25,561. This number includes the 397 non-residents who died in Florida.
As of Saturday afternoon, there were currently 6,698 people with the virus hospitalized in Florida, according to the state Agency for Health Care Administration.
Since March, 70,002 people have been hospitalized in Florida after complications from COVID-19. That number includes the 267 new patients who have been recently hospitalized due to the virus, according to the health department’s daily report released on Friday.
The percent of positive results was 6.54% Saturday, a significant drop from the day prior.
Health officials say the rate should remain between 5% and 10% to prove a community has a hold of the virus and is curbing infections.
The Florida Department of Health recently began releasing a daily report on COVID-19 vaccines administered throughout the state.
As of Saturday, 1,389,149 people have been vaccinated in Florida. The FDOH also reports that 139,345 people have received their second shot.
The state was originally reporting how many people were overdue for their second vaccination but has since removed that data point.
See COVID-19 data for the Central Florida region below:
|County||Cases||New cases||Hospitalizations||New hospitalizations||Deaths||New Deaths|