Vaccine events focus on school employees as Florida reports 5,244 new COVID-19 cases

Vaccinations available for all OCPS employees Saturday and Sunday

Families frustrated over ‘red tape’ as Florida governor talks expanding vaccine eligibility

ORLANDO, Fla. – Teachers, school staff and child care workers are getting prioritized when in comes to vaccinations.

Orange County Public Schools is partnering with the state to offer district employees COVID-19 vaccines Saturday and Sunday.

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The school district is hosting the walk-up vaccination sites at Colonial High School, East River High School, Freedom High School, Oak Ridge High School, and Ocoee High School.

At the same time, Publix is still prioritizing educators and school staff, even though the grocery chain became accepting appointments for people 60 and older on Friday. Florida’s vaccination eligibility will extend to those people starting on Monday.

Despite the focus on teachers, due to a federal directive from President Joe Biden, the state is also working to bring vaccines to vulnerable communities.

Florida is providing 9,000 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine to the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which will be administering shots to Floridians living with HIV in eight counties, including Orange County.

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

1. Vaccine eligibility could open to every Floridian by April

Gov. Ron DeSantis is looking to open up vaccinations to all Floridians.

“We could be in a position, sometime in April, where it’s just available, and people can get it. And, so, that’s really exciting,” DeSantis said Thursday while speaking at a vaccination site in Lake City.

All this comes as the state will begin vaccinating people who are 60 and older on Monday.

The governor announced the expansion of vaccine availability at Walgreens locations across the state. The pharmacy chain expanded from 12 locations to 97 offering vaccines.

Some of those new locations are in Central Florida in Lake, Marion Polk and Sumter counties.

Biden has called on all states to open vaccine eligibility to everyone 16 and older by May 1.

2. U.S. spending on pandemic outpaces WWII

The U.S. effort in World War II was off the charts. Battles spread over three continents and four years, 16 million served in uniform and the government shoved levers of the economy full force into defeating Nazi Germany and imperial Japan.

All of that was cheaper for American taxpayers than this pandemic.

The $1,400 federal payments going into millions of people’s bank accounts are but one slice of a nearly $2 trillion relief package made law this past week. With that, the United States has spent or committed to spend nearly $6 trillion to crush the coronavirus, recover economically and take a bite out of child poverty.

3. Orange County leaders go door-to-door to help seniors get vaccinated

A new pilot program is launching in Orange County next week. Leaders said community canvassers will go door-to-door in neighborhoods to help more people get the COVID-19 vaccine.

The program will be in partnership with the State of Florida and FEMA.

County officials said the concern is that some communities don’t have proper access to a vaccination site or may not have enough information.

The goal of the program is to have trusted members of the community help get eligible individuals vaccinated inside their homes.

[READ YESTERDAY’S REPORT: President orders all adults eligible for vaccine by May 1 as Florida reports 5,144 new COVID-19 cases]

Find the state-run COVID-19 dashboard below:

Below is a breakdown of Florida COVID-19 data reported by the state on March 13.

Cases

The Florida Department of Health reported 5,244 new cases on Saturday, bringing the state’s overall total to 1,973,109 cases since the virus was first detected on March 1, 2020.

Deaths

Florida reported 85 new virus-related deaths Saturday, bringing the death toll to 32,829. This number includes the 604 non-residents who died in Florida.

Hospitalizations

As of Saturday afternoon, there were currently 2,966 people with the virus hospitalized in Florida, according to the state Agency for Health Care Administration.

Since March 1, 2020, 82,202 people have been hospitalized in Florida after complications from COVID-19. That number includes the 196 new patients who have been recently hospitalized due to the virus, according to the health department’s daily report released on Saturday.

Positivity rate

The percent of positive results was 5.16% Friday out of 119,026 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 2,276,947 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, 4,141,148 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
Brevard35,4641222,07837818
Flagler6,241193444940
Lake25,529851,31755872
Marion28,353521,848128870
Orange117,9063092,46871,1401
Osceola38,0071151,31514672
Polk58,8201294,541191,1943
Seminole28,275801,16354451
Sumter8,3394252022420
Volusia35,791951,84376860

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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.