ORLANDO, Fla. – It’s possible that Florida is about a month away from opening up vaccinations to anyone, if the current pace continues with the rollout now in full swing.
The goal is to vaccinate 60% to 70% of the population to reach herd immunity, which is no small feat for a state with 22 million residents, not including seasonal homeowners.
However, the fight against the pandemic is still far from over.
Public health officials are imploring the public to get vaccinated as COVID-19′s toll is staggering, with more than 527,000 dead in the U.S. alone, and counting.
About 1 in 5 Americans say they lost a relative or close friend to the coronavirus, highlighting the division between heartache and hope as the country itches to get back to normal a year into the pandemic.
A new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research illustrates how the stage is set for a two-tiered recovery. The public’s worry about the virus has dropped to its lowest point since the fall, before the holidays brought skyrocketing cases into the new year.
But people still in mourning express frustration at the continued struggle to stay safe.
“We didn’t have a chance to grieve. It’s almost like it happened yesterday for us. It’s still fresh,” said Nettie Parks of Volusia County, whose only brother died of COVID-19 last April. Because of travel restrictions, Parks and her five sisters have yet to hold a memorial.
Only about 3 in 10 Americans are very worried about themselves or a family member being infected with the virus, down from about 4 in 10 in recent months. Still, a majority are at least somewhat worried.
“They’re letting their guard down and they shouldn’t,” Parks said. “People are going to have to realize this thing is not going anywhere. It’s not over.”
Here are three things to know about the coronavirus in Florida:
1. Vaccines for everyone in April?
During a news conference Thursday morning, DeSantis said he thinks Florida will be in a position to open vaccinations up to anyone as soon as next month. This comes as Florida residents 60 and up will be able to get the shots starting Monday. The governor said the 55-plus age group would soon follow.
“We get to 55 relatively soon, and then if the supply floodgates really open, we could be in a position, sometime in April, where it’s just available, and people can get it,” DeSantis said. “And so that’s really exciting because if you go back to the beginning of January for when we’re getting 230,000 doses a week for a state of 22 million people with with 4.5 million seniors, that’s a much different situation than where we were just a few weeks ago.”
2. Walgreens, CVS expand vaccine coverage
Walgreens is expanding its pharmacies able to vaccinate people in Florida on the same day CVS began accepting new vaccine appointments at an additional 76 pharmacies across the state.
Prior to Thursday, there were 12 Walgreens in the state offering shots now the pharmacy has expanded to nearly 100 locations, including in Lake, Marion, Polk and Sumter counties.
This supply is separate from the shipments sent to federally-run sites and to pharmacies partnering with the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program.
3. No more COVID-19 fines
DeSantis issued a new executive order late Wednesday, halting any local municipality from fining businesses or individuals for violating COVID-19 safety protocols. The move comes more than three months after Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings began issuing fines to businesses not following CDC protocol after several warnings.
[READ YESTERDAY’S REPORT: More than 2 million Floridians fully vaccinated as state reports 62 virus-related deaths]
Find the state-run COVID-19 dashboard below:
Below is a breakdown of Florida COVID-19 data reported by the state on March 10.
The Florida Department of Health reported 5,065 new cases on Thursday, bringing the state’s overall total to 1,962,651 cases since the virus was first detected on March 1, 2020.
Florida reported 96 new virus-related deaths Thursday, bringing the death toll to 32,639. This number includes the 599 non-residents who died in Florida.
As of Thursday afternoon, there were currently 3,166 people with the virus hospitalized in Florida, according to the state Agency for Health Care Administration.
Since March 1, 2020, 81,763 people have been hospitalized in Florida after complications from COVID-19. That number includes the 199 new patients who have been recently hospitalized due to the virus, according to the health department’s daily report released on Thursday.
The percent of positive results was 5% Wednesday out of 101,363 tests performed. The numbers reported daily by the state reflect test results 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 began releasing a daily report in December on COVID-19 vaccines administered throughout the state.
FDOH reports 2,129,547 people are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. These individuals either received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine or completed a two-shot series.
As of Thursday afternoon, 3,895,656 people have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine.
See COVID-19 data for the Central Florida region below:
|County||Cases||New cases||Hospitalizations||New hospitalizations||Deaths||New deaths|