President orders all adults eligible for vaccine by May 1 as Florida reports 5,144 new COVID-19 cases

Publix now accepting vaccine appointments for people 60-plus years old

ORLANDO, Fla. – All 50 states now have until May 1 to make all adults eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.

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President Joe Biden included the directive during his first prime-time speech to the nation Thursday night. The president is making it a goal to see some return to normalcy by July 4.

“Tonight, I’m announcing that I will direct all states, tribes and territories to make all adults, people 18 and over eligible to be vaccinated no later than May 1,” Biden said. “If we do all this, if we do our part, if we do this together by July the 4th, there’s a good chance you, your families and friends will be able to get together in your backyard or in your neighborhood and have a cookout and a barbecue and celebrate Independence Day.”

Gov. Ron DeSantis has already hinted that Florida would open up vaccine eligibility to everyone sometime in April, though he has not given an exact timeline.

“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.

Eligibility for the vaccine opens up to any Floridian over the age of 60 on Monday.

Here are 3 things you need to know about the coronavirus in Florida:

1. Publix already accepting vaccine appointments for people 60 and older

When Publix opened its portal on Friday for COVID-19 vaccine appointments, more Florida residents were eligible.

Those 60 and older are now able to vie for a chance to get one of the shots, but the retailer noted that school employees and child care workers will still be prioritized.

With the new expansion, Publix is now accepting appointments for: those who are medically vulnerable and have this form filled out by their doctor, health care professionals, residents and staff of long-term care facilities, all K-12 school employees and other child care workers, and firefighters and law enforcement officers who are 50 and older.

2. Americans to start receiving stimulus checks

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said during a press briefing on Thursday that some Americans could expect to see payments as early as this weekend.

However, the distribution is handled by the IRS, which is ramping up tax season, so that could impede distribution.

Individuals earning up to $75,000 and couples earning up to $150,000 would receive the payment of $1,400 per person. Two income earner couples who file their tax returns jointly will get a total of $2,800 if they make up to $150,000. If you claim a dependent or dependents on your tax return, you will receive an additional $1,400 for each dependent. A difference in the American Rescue Plan from previous relief bill now includes stimulus money for dependents over the age of 16 such as disabled adults and college students.

President Joe Biden says he expects 85% of American households will get $1,400 in a direct payment.

3. Vaccine events for OCPS employees

Vaccination events for employees of Orange County Public Schools will take place this weekend at five different locations, according to the district.

Vaccines will be available to any OCPS employee, charter school employee or private school employee, according to school officials.

The vaccines will be available from 9 a.m.- 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday:

  • Colonial High School on Oleander Drive in Orlando
  • East River High School on East River Falcons Way in Orlando
  • Freedom High School on W. Taft-Vineland Road in Orlando
  • Oak Ridge High School in Orlando
  • Ocoee High School on Ocoee Crown Point Parkway in Ocoee

Employees must bring their OCPS ID and state ID.

[READ YESTERDAY’S REPORT: One year since pandemic declaration, Florida reports 96 deaths, 5,065 new cases]

Find the state-run COVID-19 dashboard below:

Below is a breakdown of Florida COVID-19 data reported by the state on March 12.

Cases

The Florida Department of Health reported 5,144 new cases on Friday, bringing the state’s overall total to 1,967,865 cases since the virus was first detected on March 1, 2020.

Deaths

Florida reported 105 new virus-related deaths Friday, bringing the death toll to 32,744. This number includes the 599 non-residents who died in Florida.

Hospitalizations

As of Friday afternoon, there were currently 3,116 people with the virus hospitalized in Florida, according to the state Agency for Health Care Administration.

Since March 1, 2020, 82,006 people have been hospitalized in Florida after complications from COVID-19. That number includes the 243 new patients who have been recently hospitalized due to the virus, according to the health department’s daily report released on Friday.

Positivity rate

The percent of positive results was 4.88% Thursday out of 105,325 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.

Vaccinations

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

FDOH reports 2,203,788 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 Friday afternoon, 4,031,776 people have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine.

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

CountyCasesNew casesHospitalizationsNew hospitalizationsDeathsNew deaths
Brevard35,3421572,07587731
Flagler6,222213401940
Lake25,444661,31255851
Marion28,301631,836158875
Orange117,5972892,46151,1391
Osceola37,892781,31444653
Polk58,6911244,522121,1910
Seminole28,195761,15844441
Sumter8,2972851802420
Volusia35,6961361,836136862

To keep up with the latest news on the pandemic, subscribe to News 6′s coronavirus newsletter and go to ClickOrlando.com/coronavirus.


About the Authors:

Thomas Mates is a digital storyteller for News 6 and ClickOrlando.com. He also produces the podcast Florida Foodie. Thomas is originally from Northeastern Pennsylvania and worked in Portland, Oregon before moving to Central Florida in August 2018. He graduated from Temple University with a degree in Journalism in 2010.