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Are we back to COVID-normal in Florida?

Are we back to COVID-normal in Florida?

COVID cspanses and hospitalizations have fallen nearly to levels last seen before the winter surge caused by offshoots of the virus’ omicron variant. Here’s what the latest data show:  

Fewest new COVID cases and hospitalizations in months

15,174 new infections, the fewest since the week ending Dec. 1 (Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). 

1,590 hospital patients — the fewest since Dec. 11. (Source: Health and Human Services Department). 

Gov. Ron DeSantis has yet to fulfill a promise he made in January 2022 to differentiate between people who get hospitalized because of COVID and those who test positive while in the hospital for another reason. Such data would give a more accurate picture of the disease’s severity. 

Stephanie Trujillo Rodriguez helps Jackie Edwards who is expecting twins to register for her first shot of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at "Play date to vaccinate" at Palm Beach Children's Hospital at St. Mary's Medical Center in West Palm Beach, in this photo from August 31, 2021.

What does the latest sewage data say? 

Wastewater, which reveals coronavirus trends sooner than official case counts, shows viral levels falling in almost every Florida county where sewage is tested, including a big one that showed rising counts last week. 

Sewage from Palm Beach, Miami-Dade, Alachua, Leon, Hillsborough, Pinellas, Orange and Seminole counties show fewer coronavirus genetic fragments compared with last week and last month. 

Sewage testing conducted last week by Boston-based Biobot Analytics showed the virus spreading in Miami-Dade County during the two weeks leading up to Feb. 8. 

But test results released Wednesday showed a drop to about 341 virus molecules for each milliliter of sewage, the fewest since last spring. 

Viral loads are rising slowly in Seminole County, the northern neighbor to Orange County, Biobot test results show. The private laboratory found 1,048 coronavirus particles per milliliter of sewage Wednesday, a 57% increase from Feb. 1 — still near mid-December lows. 

Sewage testing from the nationwide WastewaterSCAN initiative also shows falling viral counts from Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, Orange and Seminole counties. 

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Latest wave of deaths continues to recede 

305 more deaths recorded this week, still higher than pre-surge weekly levels of under 200. (CDC data). 

Fatalities can take weeks to enter official statistics. Even as new infections and hospitalizations decline, deaths lag behind. 

Florida vaccination rates still among nation’s worst 

29% — Floridians 65 and older who have gotten the latest booster*  

41% — Seniors boosted nationwide**  

10.9% — Floridians up to date on shots  

16% — Americans up to date  

86,012 — Floridians killed  

7.5 million — infected in Florida. More than 1 in 3 residents  

*Those 65 and older comprise the vast majority of COVID deaths. 

**Only Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana seniors have less protection than Florida’s.  



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