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New COVID-19 infections here double as number getting vaccinated declines

STORY BY LISA ZAHNER (Week of July 15, 2021)

The rate of new, weekly COVID-19 infections here more than doubled over the past two weeks, as the number of people getting vaccinated continues to steadily decline.

The number of new infections rose from 51 cases during the week ending June 24 to 95 cases during the week ending July 1 to 125 cases during the week ending July 8. So less than three weeks ago, fewer than eight people per day were being infected. Now that number is nearly 18 per day.

To put that in perspective, the last time Indian River County saw a new infection rate this high was late April, so two-and-a-half months’ worth of progress has been wiped out in two weeks.

The local case positivity rate – the percentage of people tested who turn up positive for COVID-19 – also more than doubled in that same span of time, rising from 3.1 percent the week ending June 24 to 8.3 percent the week ending July 8.

We only have weekly data now since the Florida Department of Health discontinued daily reporting.

Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials project that what’s been termed the Delta variant of the coronavirus is responsible for more than half the recent surge in cases nationally.

Though no cases of that variant have been documented through sampling in Indian River County, the new twist on the virus is widely circulating throughout Florida and has been found elsewhere on the Treasure Coast.

According to the CDC, the B.1.617.2 (Delta) variant was first detected in the United States in March after being identified in India in December. Delta is now the dominant strain of the virus for new cases.

“These variants seem to spread more easily and quickly than other variants, which may lead to more cases of COVID-19. An increase in the number of cases will put more strain on healthcare resources, lead to more hospitalizations, and potentially more deaths,” the CDC warned.

But there seems to be good news for those who have had their shot or shots. “So far, studies suggest that the current authorized vaccines work on the circulating variants. Scientists will continue to study these and other variants,” according to the CDC.

Roughly two thirds of Indian River County residents aged 12 and older are vaccinated, according to the latest state report. But the remaining third have been slow to line up for their jab.

As cases rose recently, the number of people getting vaccinated dropped significantly each week, with 589 people being vaccinated the week ending June 17, then 541 people the week ending June 24, 450 people the week ending July 1, and only 408 people in the week ending July 8.

The most recent number could be artificially low due to Independence Day closings and festivities, but it’s still on-trend with the past month, with a 25 percent decline in weekly vaccinations since mid-June.

Walk-in vaccine clinics at the Indian River County Health Department were cut back from four days per week to two days per week starting on July 7, commensurate with the reduced demand.

The vaccine is still available at Publix, Walmart, Sam’s Club, Walgreens and CVS pharmacies, or through Cleveland Clinic Indian River Hospital. Information about appointments can be found at:

The county health department offers no-appointment shots from 8:30 to 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays at 1900 27th St., Vero Beach.

For additional information on COVID-19 immunizations, call 772-794-7425 or go to