ORLANDO, Fla. – Following the Food and Drug Administration’s backing of Pfizer booster shots, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also endorsed booster shots for older or vulnerable Americans.
CDC advisers discussed Thursday who would receive the booster shot, deciding people 65 and older, nursing home residents and those ages 50 to 64 with underlying health conditions are eligible at least six months after their last Pfizer shot. Despite the Pfizer vaccine being the only one signed off on for booster shots, according to the Associated Press, all three of the COVID-19 vaccines used in the U.S. are still highly protective against severe illness, hospitalization and death.
This comes as Pfizer released information on the results of its COVID-19 vaccine trials, showing it is safe and effective for children ages 5 to 11. Pfizer said its vaccine proved to be 95% effective and that this age group only receives one-third of the normal dose adults get to receive similar protection from the virus.
While vaccines have yet to be approved for children, school districts are facing revised rules when it comes to children quarantining who may have been exposed to people who have COVID-19. The Florida Department of Health issued a revised rule that gives parents more authority over whether their child can go to school and it also continues to require parents being able to opt students out of school mask requirements. The new rule takes aim at school districts allowing for opt-outs with documented medical reasons by including the language “at the parent or legal guardian’s sole discretion.”
New state Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo, whose appointment was announced Tuesday by DeSantis, signed the emergency rule. It replaced the Aug. 6 rule that drew heavy attention as some school districts have sought to require students to wear masks to prevent spread of COVID-19.
The Florida Department of Education started to withhold funds from the Alachua and Broward County schools districts that equaled the monthly salaries of school board members who voted for student mask requirements. As a result, the U.S. Department of Education provided nearly $150,000 to Alachua’s school board as a grant under Project SAFE, or Project to Support America’s Families and Educators.
“We should be thanking districts for using proven strategies that will keep schools open and safe, not punishing them. We stand with the dedicated educators in Alachua and across the country doing the right thing to protect their school communities, and with today’s first-ever award under Project SAFE, we are further enabling educators to continue that critical work,” U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said in a prepared statement.
In Central Florida, the Brevard County School Board discussed the district’s policy on face coverings and voted to extend the mask mandate through Oct. 29. Before the meeting took place, two people, Nicholas Carrington and Janice Crisp, 46, of Cocoa, were arrested on trespassing charges.
Brevard students will be allowed to remove their masks in the classroom if social distancing can be maintained. The social distancing mask exemption will go into effect on Sept. 29. The district said students can opt out of wearing a mask with a documented medical condition.
[READ THE LAST COVID-19 REPORT: Florida averages 10,844 daily COVID cases as state exceeds 50K deaths since start of pandemic]
Below is a breakdown of Florida COVID-19 data reported by the state on Sept. 24.
The Florida Department of Health reported 56,325 new cases on Friday that occurred during the past week, bringing the state’s overall total to 3,539,272 cases since the virus was first detected on March 1, 2020. That is an average of 8,046 new infections reported per day.
Even though the Florida DOH released numbers once a week, the state is still reporting daily infections to the CDC. Below is the CDC daily number, which is 24 hours behind.
Florida reported 355 new virus-related deaths Friday from the past week but the cumulative death toll of 53,580 actually shows there have been 2,340 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 6,992 adult and 121 pediatric patients in Florida.
The DOH reported the percent of positive results from coronavirus tests was 8.6% 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 13,536,473 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, 273,756 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 Sept. 17 - Sept. 23, 2021.
|County||Total cases as of Sept. 23||New cases since Sept. 17||Total people vaccinated||Percent of 12+ population vaccinated|