ORLANDO, Fla. – The Food and Drug Administration made a late-night announcement Thursday, authorizing booster shots for people with severely weakened immune systems who have been vaccinated with Pfizer or Moderna.
The FDA said the decision applies to several million Americans who are vulnerable due to organ transplants, certain cancers or other disorders. The agency said the third dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines can be received by eligible people at least 28 days after their second dose.
In an attempt to curb the increasing hospitalizations in Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis deployed a rapid response unit Thursday to offer COVID-19 antibody treatments. The FDA gave emergency use authorization to the drug in November 2020, citing at the time that the drug may reduce COVID-19-related hospitalization or emergency room visits in patients at high risk for disease progression.
“I don’t think it’s an either or. I think we know in a situation, you know, we have people in society that are not vaccinated, we also have people that are vaccinated who are still testing positive. And so, either way, you know, if you get in that situation, particularly in these high-risk categories, this should be your stop,” DeSantis said during a news conference.
According to the Associated Press, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said nationwide orders of monoclonal antibodies are 12 times higher in recent weeks than they were at the beginning of July.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also urged all pregnant women to get vaccinated as hospitals around the country are seeing a number of unvaccinated mothers seriously ill with the virus. In Florida, a 30-year-old woman died days after holding her newborn for only minutes because of worsened symptoms due to COVID-19.
AdventHealth’s Central Florida division provided an update Thursday and said it has over 1,500 patients across its hospital system. Dr. Michael Keating, chief medical officer for AdventHealth for children, said “we’re in a war” and that hospitalizations do not appear to be slowing down.
Orange County officials also reported Thursday there have been 17 new deaths since the last update on Monday, bringing August’s count of COVID-19 deaths to 18. Dr. Raul Pino, of the Florida Department of Health in Orange County, explained that 16 of the 17 deaths had underlying health conditions and that it was not yet known whether the 18th person had any underlying conditions
Many Central Florida students returned to the classroom this week with many districts having a mask policy in place that parents could opt their children out of. Brevard County’s school board held a a six-hour meeting this week after the first day of school but ultimately decided to keep masks optional.
[READ THE LAST COVID-19 REPORT: Florida averages 19,200+ cases per day as state breaks pandemic records ]
Below is a breakdown of Florida COVID-19 data reported by the state on Aug. 13.
The Florida Department of Health reported 151,415 new cases on Friday that occurred during the past week, bringing the state’s overall total to 2,877,214 cases since the virus was first detected on March 1, 2020. That is an average of more than 21,630 new infections reported per day.
Florida reported 286 new virus-related deaths Friday from the past week but the cumulative death toll of 40,766 actually shows there have been 1,071 new deaths added to the state total. The state has not provided any information as to when these deaths occurred.
The state stopped reporting the number of non-residents who died in Florida with its new weekly reporting method.
The state Agency for Health Care Administration deleted its current COVID-19 hospitalization database and the state is no longer reporting how many patients have been hospitalized with the virus. However, Florida is still required to report that information to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the CDC continues to release that information online. The most recent hospital numbers show 15,249 adult and 192 pediatric patients in Florida.
The DOH reported the percent of positive results from coronavirus tests was 19.3% but did not provide how many people were tested during the past week. 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 2020 on COVID-19 vaccines administered throughout the state. In the new weekly reports, the state is combining the vaccination data with the COVID-19 infection numbers.
FDOH reports 10,319,844 people are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. These individuals either received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine or completed a two-shot series.
During the past week, 261,396 new people have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine.
Central Florida region
The state is no longer providing a breakdown of county-by-county deaths or hospitalizations as of June 3. The Florida DOH is also no longer providing county numbers for non-residents who have tested positive, causing the total case numbers to drop significantly, in some counties by more than 1,000 cases.
For example, with non-resident positive cases as of June 3, Orange County had reported a total of 143,198 but with the state’s new reporting method, the county has 141,941 total cases, a difference of 1,257 positive cases.
Below is the Central Florida region breakdown of new cases and new vaccination numbers between Aug. 6-Aug. 12, 2021.
|County||Total cases as of Aug. 12||New cases since Aug. 6||Total people vaccinated||Percent of 12+ population vaccinated|