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COVID-19 cases again down in county; vaccine supply here now exceeds demand

STORY BY LISA ZAHNER (Week of May 6, 2021)

The average daily number of new COVID-19 infections in our county continued downward last week to fewer than 17 a day – a 20 percent reduction from the week before and an 87 percent reduction from the mid-January surge.

Six island residents tested positive for the virus last week. Countywide, the testing positivity rate remained lower than 6 percent for the past two weeks, with only two days when more than 5 percent tested positive.

Hospitalizations remained low, with 10 people reported hospitalized with COVID-19 as of press time Monday.  But six deaths from complications of the virus were reported over the past week, bringing Indian River County’s death toll to 299. Of those deaths, 128 have been people aged 80 and older. Another 83 deaths were people aged 75 to 79 years old.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention eased mask-wearing guidance for people who have been fully vaccinated when outdoors or around other fully vaccinated people, but Florida’s Surgeon General Dr. Scott Rivkees went way beyond the CDC’s recommendations.

On Friday, Rivkees issued a proclamation rescinding previous COVID-19 public health advisories and saying, “Continuing COVID-19 restrictions on individuals, with no end in sight, including long-term use of face coverings, and withdrawal from social and recreational gatherings pose a risk of adverse and unintended consequences.

“Due to COVID-19 widespread vaccine availability, fully vaccinated individuals should no longer be advised to wear face coverings and avoid social and recreational gatherings, except in limited circumstances,” Rivkees said.

As of Sunday’s reports, nearly 82,000 Indian River County residents have received at least one shot of COViD-19 vaccine, with 53,000 of those being fully vaccinated.

Vaccine supply now exceeds demand, so the Indian River County Health Department has closed the drive-up vaccine site at the Indian River Fairgrounds. Statewide, more than 9 million Floridians have received at least one dose of vaccine, representing more than 40 percent of the state.