Florida seeing 21,445 new COVID infections per day as mask debate heats up

Demand for antibody treatment soars as new clinics open around Florida

Joseph Situentes Pea, 13, receives his first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic held in partnership between the Central Texas Food Bank and the University of Texas in Austin on July 21, 2021.

ORLANDO, Fla. – As Florida inches closer to the peak of the latest surge of infections and herd immunity against COVID-19, the state is still averaging 21,000 coronavirus cases daily.

Researchers from the University of South Florida are compiling data that suggests Florida will hit the peak of this latest COVID-19 wave as soon as next week. Projections also show the state could reach herd immunity by mid-September.

Dr. Edwin Michael, a professor of epidemiology and disease modeling at USF, is leading the research.

[READ THE LAST COVID-19 REPORT: Florida averages 21,630+ daily cases as booster shots approved for some Americans]

“If the current vaccination were to be maintained and the current social measures were to continue, then we’ll reach herd immunity, 90% on Sept. 11,” Michael said.

He also said the anticipated peak has dropped significantly since the last model because the community has responded to the recent surge by getting vaccinated and wearing masks.

The surge is expected to peak at 23,000 cases, compared to the 41,000 the previous model anticipated.

Because of increased precautionary efforts, Michael said Florida could reach herd immunity by mid-September. He said that is projected to be when 90% of the state’s population has immunity either after recovering from COVID or from the vaccine.

Meanwhile, Gov. Ron DeSantis has been traveling the state announcing the openings of monoclonal antibody treatment clinics in hopes of cutting back on the hospitalization of patients with severe COVID-19 symptoms.

The treatments are free of charge and are available to people 12 and older who have already tested positive for COVID-19, regardless of vaccination status. The governor said the treatment can also be used as a prophylaxis for people who are especially vulnerable to COVID-19 who may have had exposure to somebody who was COVID-19 positive.

In clinical trials, monoclonal antibody treatment showed a 70% reduction in hospitalization and death, according to Floridahealthcovid19.gov.

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Also this week, the debate over coronavirus-related mandates continues.

President Joe Biden announced earlier this week vaccine mandate plans for nursing home workers, while the governor maintains getting vaccinated should remain a choice.

The same goes for mask-wearing in schools, according to the governor, who says parents should get to choose whether their child wears a mask in school.

DeSantis issued an executive order last month that prevents schools from requiring masks, essentially banning blanket face-covering mandates.

A lawsuit filed earlier this month by Florida parents challenges that order. Parents are arguing the order is unconstitutional and prevents schools from providing a safe and secure educational environment.

A judge determined Thursday that the lawsuit can move forward. During a three-day hearing beginning Monday, both sides will present their cases and make closing arguments.

Another top story when it comes to COVID-19 this week: booster shots. The shots are already available to immunocompromised folks who are eligible for a third shot. Biden said the shots will start to be administered to the general public the week of Sept. 20.

Below is a breakdown of Florida COVID-19 data reported by the state on Aug. 20.

Cases

The Florida Department of Health reported 150,118 new cases on Friday that occurred during the past week, bringing the state’s overall total to 3,027,954 cases since the virus was first detected on March 1, 2020. That is an average of 21,445 new infections reported per day.

Deaths

Florida reported 346 new virus-related deaths Friday from the past week but the cumulative death toll of 42,252 actually shows there have been 1,486 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.

Hospitalizations

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 16,670 adult and 179 pediatric patients in Florida.

Positivity rate

The DOH reported the percent of positive results from coronavirus tests was 19.8% 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.

Vaccinations

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 10,530,911 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, 443,953 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. 13-Aug. 19, 2021.

CountyTotal cases as of Aug. 20New cases since Aug. 13Total people vaccinatedPercent of 12+ population vaccinated
Brevard64,3234,550339,49763%
Flagler11,09673167,89965%
Lake42,7122,452210,10663%
Marion44,0282,840189,00158%
Orange190,7228,880842,54768%
Osceola60,1282,676241,16171%
Polk100,3476,983357,07358%
Seminole50,6802,909271,93065%
Sumter11,71853993,21571%
Volusia62,5752,764296,67561%

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