Vaccine access expands as Florida reports 5,941 new COVID-19 cases

New federally supported vaccine sites to open next week as governor weighs expanding eligibility

This July 2020 photo provided by Johnson & Johnson shows a vial of the COVID-19 vaccine in Belgium. The nation is poised to get a third vaccine against COVID-19, but health officials are concerned that at first glance the Johnson & Johnson shot may not be seen as equal to other options from Pfizer and Moderna. (Johnson & Johnson via AP)

ORLANDO, Fla. – Access to the COVID-19 vaccine is expanding in Central Florida and across the state.

Starting Friday, all 730 Florida Publix locations are now offering vaccine appointments.

Vaccinations are provided by appointment only, while supplies last, through the online reservation system at publix.com/covidvaccine. The reservation system typically opens every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning.

At the same time, Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings and his team have identified underserved communities in the Orlando area that will be the first to benefit from new mobile COVID-19 vaccination units that FEMA is bringing to Central Florida next week.

The mayor announced on Thursday the satellite units will be at the Engelwood Neighborhood Center on La Costa Drive from March 3 to March 6 then from March 7 to March 10 they’ll be at Kelly Park in Apopka.

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These sites will work in conjunction with the federal vaccination site opening at Valencia College’s West Campus starting Wednesday. Each unit will be deployed into a community where the need for shots is high and administer 500 doses per day in addition to the 2,000 shot that will be given daily at Valencia.

Gov. Ron DeSantis also announced a new vaccine site in Osceola County on Thursday.

DeSantis also said plans are in the works to expand who will be eligible to receive a vaccine in the state of Florida. At the moment, only people over the age of 65 and healthcare workers with direct patient contact may get vaccinated.

“We’re going to expand with law enforcement and classroom teachers that are 50 and above, so stay tuned for that announcement next week,” DeSantis said.

Additionally, Walmart opened pop-up vaccine clinics Thursday in the parking lots of three Florida locations, including a store in Orlando.

Store leaders said they expect to vaccinate 3,000 seniors and health care workers over the next three weeks.

[READ YESTERDAY’S REPORT: Florida reports 6,500 new COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations drop below 4,000 statewide]

Find the state-run COVID-19 dashboard below:

Below is a breakdown of Florida COVID-19 data reported by the state on Feb. 26.

Cases

The Florida Department of Health reported 5,941 new cases on Friday, bringing the state’s overall total to 1,898,223 cases since the virus was first detected on March 1.

Deaths

Florida reported 144 new virus-related deaths Friday, raising the death toll to 31,162. This number includes the 538 non-residents who died in Florida.

Hospitalizations

As of Friday afternoon, there were currently 3,864 people with the virus hospitalized in Florida, according to the state Agency for Health Care Administration.

Since March, 79,021 people have been hospitalized in Florida after complications from COVID-19. That number includes the 277 new patients who have been recently hospitalized due to the virus, according to the health department’s daily report released on Thursday.

Positivity rate

The percent of positive results was 5.18% Thursday of the 114,712 tests reported to the state. 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.

Vaccinations

The Florida Department of Health began releasing a daily report in December on COVID-19 vaccines administered throughout the state.

As of Friday afternoon, 2,895,170 people have received at least the first dose of a coronavirus vaccine. The FDOH also reports that 1,588,027 people have received their second shot.

See COVID-19 data for the Central Florida region below:

CountyCasesNew casesHospitalizationsNew hospitalizationsDeathsNew deaths
Brevard33,7391611,99657382
Flagler5,898213281890
Lake24,4451031,258855410
Marion27,4851031,71857822
Orange113,6483182,37761,090
Osceola36,607861,27624416
Polk56,7591764,355211,1376
Seminole27,057901,11604220
Sumter7,9651950722383
Volusia34,338981,726136544

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