ORLANDO, Fla. – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new guidelines Friday, announcing a change to the metrics used to determine whether people can safely take a break from wearing masks.
The CDC outlined the new set of measures for communities where COVID-19 is easing its grip, with less of a focus on positive test results and more on what’s happening at hospitals. The new system puts more than 70% of the U.S. population in counties where COVID-19 is posing a low or medium threat to hospitals.
[TRENDING: Become a News 6 Insider (it’s free!)]
Meanwhile, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and state Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo announced new COVID-19 policy recommendations that discourages mask-wearing. Florida’s new policy advises businesses to stop requiring masks for workers, as the state’s health guidance does not rely on wearing masks in a community setting.
The surgeon general was confirmed by the Florida Senate this week on a party-line vote of 24 to 15, with Democrats saying the doctor was dangerously unqualified, while Republicans said he was a man who “looked at the facts,” as one senator put it.
Ladapo’s appointment by DeSantis became contentious because of his controversial opinions about COVID-19, including an insistence that the federal government was hiding facts about the vaccine.
In Seminole County, wastewater data showed a decrease in the concentration of COVID-19 though the amount of the virus found in the wastewater remains high. Testing also showed the presence of “stealth omicron,” which researchers say spreads faster the original omicron variant and, in rare cases, can sicken people “even if they’ve already had an omicron infection,” according to the Associated Press.
The CDC also changed its advice on spacing the first and second doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. U.S. health officials are now recommending people getting those vaccines should wait up to eight weeks between the first and second doses, instead of three to four weeks as previously recommended.
Officials said the longer wait could help diminish a form of heart inflammation seen in some young men, a rare vaccination side effect.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Below is a breakdown of Florida COVID-19 data reported by the state on Feb. 25:
The Florida Department of Health reported 25,460 new cases on Friday that occurred between Feb. 18 and Feb. 24, bringing the state’s overall total to 5,800,561 cases since the virus was first detected on March 1, 2020.
Florida reported 119 new virus-related deaths Friday from the past week but the cumulative death toll of 69,790 actually shows there have been 888 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 2,935 adult and 65 pediatric patients in Florida.
The DOH reported the percent of positive results from coronavirus tests was 5.6% 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 2,135,148 have received at least one dose of the vaccine against COVID-19, this is about 74% of the state.
During the past week, 49,023 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. 18 - Feb. 24.
|County||Total cases as of Feb. 24||New cases since Feb. 18||Total people vaccinated||Percent of 5+ population vaccinated|