ORLANDO, Fla. – The Food and Drug Administration delayed its meeting next week to review Pfizer’s vaccine for children under 5 because they would like to see more data.
FDA advisers were supposed to publicly debate if children under 5 should starting getting two shots before it’s clear if they’d actually need a third, but reversed course and said it needed to wait for data on how well a third shot does for the age group.
“We believe additional information regarding evaluation of a third dose should be considered as part of our decision-making,” the agency said in a statement.
At the same time, 12 Florida school districts could lose millions in state funding for defying a statewide ban on mask mandates in schools.
The Florida House Appropriations Committee advanced the plan Wednesday to cut $200 million collectively from the 12 counties, which includes Orange and Volusia counties. State Rep. Randy Fine said the $200 million figure is based on 1,600 administrators in the 12 counties with a salary exceeding $100,000.
Gov. Ron DeSantis hopes lawmakers go even further. At an event in Marianna on Friday, DeSantis said he wanted the mask mandate ban extended to private schools that take money from state scholarship programs.
“Many of the parochial schools that they have selected for their kids are still clinging to the force masking of these poor schoolchildren,” DeSantis said. “So I think the legislature should say, You know what, if a parent is utilizing our Step Up for Students scholarships, they should be protected from having their kids forced maths just the same as public school parents, and it’s wrong to tell a parent who’s made this decision for academic reasons that what are they supposed to do try to find another school because of the policy?”
Mask guidelines are being reconsidered in states across the country, including New York. New York is allowing masks to come off in more indoor settings like other states, though there has not been an update in guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
An expert with the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington said now is the time to roll back restrictions. Dr. Ali Mokdad has been tracking COVID since the beginning of the pandemic. He said the recent decline in cases, hospitalizations and deaths are reasons why policymakers can ease back on mask mandates.
“We need to treat it like the flu and it will become a seasonal virus and you need to take a vaccine for it, but we need to move on with our lives,” he said.
Norwegian cruises will no longer require masks on ships sailing out starting next month. The cruise line said the decision to wear a mask is “at the discretion of each guest.” Along with the mask changes, the cruise line will also be updating its testing protocols.
The World Health Organization’s weekly epidemiological report showed that case counts fell 17% worldwide over the last week — including a 50% decline in the U.S. — while deaths globally rose 7%, according to the Associated Press. The head of the organization said “COVID isn’t finished us” despite the drop in cases.
While the omicron created a surge in cases, the U.S. economy saw a burst in hiring, according to the January job report.
“What we’re really seeing here is businesses learning how to live with the virus and operate with the virus,’’ Labor Secretary Marty Walsh said.
Below is a breakdown of Florida COVID-19 data reported by the state on Feb. 11:
The Florida Department of Health reported 103,022 new cases on Friday that occurred between Feb. 4 and Feb. 10, bringing the state’s overall total to 5,732,798 cases since the virus was first detected on March 1, 2020.
Florida reported 195 new virus-related deaths Friday from the past week but the cumulative death toll of 67,572 actually shows there have been 1,293 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 5,815 adult and 138 pediatric patients in Florida.
The DOH reported the percent of positive results from coronavirus tests was 14.3% 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 15,356,586 have received at least one dose of the vaccine against COVID-19, this is about 74% of the state.
During the past week, 21,557 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 Feb. 4 - Feb. 10.
|County||Total cases as of Feb. 10||New cases since Feb. 4||Total people vaccinated||Percent of 5+ population vaccinated|