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COVID-19 infections decline sharply here, but vaccinations are also down

STORY BY LISA ZAHNER (Week of June 3, 2021)

The month of May brought a steep decline in COVID-19 cases here, and an even steeper decline in vaccinations.

With no reporting over Memorial Day weekend, the running count of new infections in Indian River County during May as of Friday was 430, for an average of 16 per day, down 34 percent from the previous month.

Thirty-six people were hospitalized with COVID-19 disease in May and tragically, 11 people died.

Twenty-two barrier island residents tested positive for the virus in May.

About 7,500 people joined the ranks of those in Indian River County who got at least one shot of vaccine in May, a 62 percent decrease from the more than 20,000 people who got a shot in April. As of last Friday’s reporting, 88,561 Indian River County residents, or 56 percent of the population, have had at least one jab of COVID-19 vaccine, and 69,190 are fully vaccinated.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, as of Sunday, 38.66 percent of Floridians are now fully vaccinated, placing Florida 29th among the states. Nationwide, 40.5 percent of Americans are fully vaccinated.

Children age 12 and older can now receive the Pfizer vaccine, with Moderna seeking similar approval on June 10.

Parents who do not want their children to receive an emergency-authorized COVID-19 vaccine cannot be forced to do so in Florida, though some other states, including New York, will require vaccination for in-person learning when school starts next fall. Not even Florida private schools can require the vaccine under Executive Order 21-81 signed on March 9.

“The executive order banning vaccine passports in Florida – and the subsequent law that Governor DeSantis recently signed – actually bans private businesses ... from requiring proof of vaccination. Private schools would absolutely not be allowed to require kids to get the vaccine, because that would be a violation of Florida law,” said Press Secretary Christina Pushaw on May 25.