Weekly COVID-19 cases double in Florida as US health officials recommend Pfizer, Moderna over J&J

CDC panel discussed rare but serious clots caused by J&J vaccine

FILE - A syringe is prepared with the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in the Norristown Public Health Center in Norristown, Pa., Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2021. The nations COVID-19 death toll stands at around 800,000 as the anniversary of the U.S. vaccine rollout arrives. A year ago it stood at 300,000. What might have been a time to celebrate a scientific achievement is fraught with discord and mourning. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File) (Matt Rourke, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

ORLANDO, Fla. – A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention panel discussed the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine that can cause rare but serious blood clots, advising Americans should be given the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.

Advisers told the CDC the clotting problem has caused nine confirmed deaths while the other two COVID-19 vaccine options do not bring that risk and appear more effective, according to the Associated Press. In a unanimous vote, the advisers decided the safer Pfizer or Moderna vaccines are preferred but the single-dose vaccine should be available if someone really wants it.

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As the omicron variant of COVID-19 continues to spread, Pfizer announced earlier this week its experimental pill to treat the virus appears effective against the variant. According to the Associated Press, the company released a study showing the pill reduced combined hospitalizations and deaths among high-risk adults by about 89% when taken shortly after initial symptoms.

Pfizer’s experimental pill, along with a competing pill from Merck, will be ruled on soon by the Food and Drug Administration on whether they will be authorized. If the pills are authorized, it would be the first COVID-19 treatments Americans could pick up at a pharmacy and take home.

The omicron variant is now the dominant variant in Orange County’s wastewater treatment plants, according to an update by Mayor Jerry Demings. The variant has been detected in all three Orange County water reclamation facilities — Eastern, South and Northwest — though Dr. Raul Pino, of the Florida Department of Health in Orange County, said there was no known confirmation of an omicron case despite the presence in wastewater.

The COVID-19 death toll hit 800,000 this week, marking the highest reported deaths of any country. Officials believe the death toll could be significantly higher because of cases that were overlooked. As the U.S. hit the milestone, President Joe Biden called on the unvaccinated to get shots for themselves and urged booster shots for those already vaccinated.

“I urge all Americans: do your patriotic duty to keep our country safe, to protect yourself and those around you, and to honor the memory of all those we have lost,” Biden said. “Now is the time.”

The Biden administration asked the Supreme Court to block lower court orders that is keeping the president’s vaccine mandate for health care workers from going into effect, saying the requirement “will save hundreds or even thousands of lives each month.”

Below is a breakdown of Florida COVID-19 data reported by the state on Dec. 17:

Cases

The Florida Department of Health reported 29,568 new cases on Friday that occurred between Dec. 10 and Dec. 16, bringing the state’s overall total to 3,739,348 cases since the virus was first detected on March 1, 2020. That is an average of 4,224 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.

Deaths

Florida reported 39 new virus-related deaths Friday from the past week but the cumulative death toll of 62,220 actually shows there have been 194 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 1,151 adult and 24 pediatric patients in Florida.

Positivity rate

The DOH reported the percent of positive results from coronavirus tests was 5.4% 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 14,647,710 people have received at least one dose of the vaccine against COVID-19, this is about 70% of the state.

During the past week, 91,841 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 Dec. 10- Dec. 16, 2021.

CountyTotal cases as of Dec. 16New cases since Dec. 10Total people vaccinatedPercent of 5+ population vaccinated
Brevard82,434307390,13467
Flagler14,7757975,74968
Lake56,032290238,87266
Marion57,745179215,76361
Orange233,3911,503996,03273
Osceola73,432340291,72077
Polk425,693495425,69363
Seminole64,072414307,92567
Sumter14,91959100,53775
Volusia78,005300335,30064

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About the Author:

Brenda, a UCF grad, joined the ClickOrlando.com team in March 2021.