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COVID-19 cases continue trending down as more residents vaccinated

STORY BY LISA ZAHNER (Week of March 25, 2021)

Indian River County experienced another encouraging week of downward-trending case numbers and rising vaccinations as Florida surpassed two million COVID-19 cases statewide this week.

Countywide only 148 positive cases of the virus were reported, just 21 per day on average, down from the mid-20s the past two weeks. Thirteen of this week’s cases hailed from the 32963 ZIP code. The case positivity rate remained in the low single digits, rising above 5 percent only three times in the past two weeks.

Nearly 5,000 people got a jab of COVID-19 vaccine during the past week, with more than 52,000 people now being partially or fully vaccinated. Looking at the combined number of people vaccinated and those who have recovered from COVID-19 the past few months, about one in three Indian River County residents should have some level of immunity to the virus.

Only four people were newly hospitalized with COVID-19 in the past week, and as of Monday evening the total daily hospitalizations with COVID-19 were 13. This number has remained low for more than a month.

On Monday, the segment of people eligible to be vaccinated expanded to anyone age 50 or older, and Gov. Ron DeSantis said it won’t be long until he opens up the opportunity to get the jab to anyone age 16 and older for Pfizer, or 18 and older for the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. Federal officials have set a goal of opening up vaccination to all adults by May 1 and DeSantis said Florida will be early.

The makers of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine released clinical trial data this week showing that the vaccine is 79 percent effective at preventing infection, and 100 percent effective at preventing death and severe disease requiring hospitalization from COVID-19.

AstraZeneca has not yet applied for emergency use authorization for its two-dose vaccine from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration but is expected to do so in the coming weeks.