Florida averages 18,946 daily COVID cases as Pfizer seeks approval of vaccine for children under 5

Pfizer submitted request early this week

A monoclonal antibody treatments center is closed after federal health regulators found the treatment ineffective against treating the widespread COVID-19 omicron variant, Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2022, in Pembroke Pines, Fla. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis vowed to fight the decision by federal regulators. The treatment had become a centerpiece of DeSantis' coronavirus response as he resisted vaccine mandates and other safety measures. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier) (Marta Lavandier, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

ORLANDO, Fla. – Florida continues to see a decline in COVID-19 cases after a surge in infections caused by the omicron variant. New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows while 17,000 more infections were reported Thursday, the seven-day average continues to drop and hospitalizations fell by 250.

The concentration of COVID-19 in the Altamonte Sewer Service Areas has decreased from by 75% from the previous week, marking the lowest level of COVID the area has seen since Dec. 13, according to the city manager. Despite the drop, the levels themselves still remain high and omicron is still the dominant strain in the area.

Orange County Public Schools this week asked the state Department of Education to waive Florida Standards Assessments testing results for another year because of the pandemic. In the letter, Superintendent Dr. Barbara Jenkins and Chair Teresa Jacobs said the district continues to face obstacles from the pandemic that have disrupted learning. According to the district, there were several thousand student and teacher absences in January due to the surging omicron variant.

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This comes as Orange County also extended its three drive-thru testing sites, which will remain open through the end of February. The sites, which offer vaccinations, are open daily. Children under 5 have not yet been approved for COVID vaccinations, though Pfizer is currently working to receive authorization.

The company asked the Food and Drug Administration Tuesday to authorize extra-low doses of its vaccine for children 6 months through 4 years old. Prior to the request, U.S. regulators urged Pfizer to apply for the emergency use authorization, aiming to clear the way for the shots as soon as late February. Pfizer aims to give children as young as 6 months shots that contain one-tenth of the dose given to adults.

If the FDA gives approval, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will then gather its own expert panel to decide if the doses should be recommended for this age group.

In the meantime, Moderna was given full approval by U.S. health regulators this week, meaning the FDA has completed a full review of Moderna’s shot. The FDA granted full approval of Pfizer’s vaccine last August. A federal advisory panel voted unanimously Friday to continue to endorse Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine for adults, now that U.S. regulators have given the shots their full approval.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis proposed a new Bill of Rights for hospital patients after many people were not able to be visited by loved ones during the height of the COVID pandemic. The governor said “COVID cannot be used as an excuse” to deny patients basic rights, specifically when it comes to who can visit them.

DeSantis hinted that more legislation could be on the way in the coming weeks, but it’s still not known what it would include. He said the measure would include protections for Floridians.

Below is a breakdown of Florida COVID-19 data reported by the state on Feb. 4:

Cases

The Florida Department of Health reported 132,622 new cases on Friday that occurred between Jan. 28 and Feb. 3, bringing the state’s overall total to 5,610,370 cases since the virus was first detected on March 1, 2020.

Deaths

Florida reported 210 new virus-related deaths Friday from the past week but the cumulative death toll of 66,279 actually shows there have been 1,324 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 7,584 adult and 160 pediatric patients in Florida.

Positivity rate

The DOH reported the percent of positive results from coronavirus tests was 18% 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 15,325,335 have received at least one dose of the vaccine against COVID-19, this is about 74% of the state.

During the past week, 26,828 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 Jan. 28- Feb. 3.

CountyTotal cases as of Feb. 3New cases since Jan. 28Total people vaccinatedPercent of 5+ population vaccinated
Brevard126,6874,202406,48670%
Flagler21,35170878,04970%
Lake80,5352,486247,59569%
Marion79,5852,621223,90563%
Orange358,9617,9341,051,44477%
Osceola109,0802,348309,91982%
Polk191,7315,268447,33066%
Seminole99,1942,775321,40770%
Sumter20,225731102,70776%
Volusia110,9443,378347,47766%

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About the Author:

Brenda Argueta is a digital journalist who joined ClickOrlando.com in March 2021. She graduated from UCF and returned to Central Florida after working in Colorado.