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Covid hospitalizations up, cases flat

STORY BY LISA ZAHNER (Week of August 4, 2022)

The number of patients with COVID-19 in Cleveland Clinic Indian River Hospital has risen again sharply, but deaths were down and reports of new infections were almost unchanged last week from the previous period.

New positive covid tests reported to the Florida Department of Health this past week declined slightly from 499 to 489 cases, so Indian River County remains in the high category for community transmission.

The meaning of those weekly numbers is muddled, however, due to local residents and businesses using an unknown number of do-it-yourself, at-home COVID-19 test kits. Positive results on home test kits do not get reported to the health department, unless the patient ends up hospitalized or seeking medical care.

Hospital spokesperson Arlene Allen-Mitchell said that as of Monday, “we have 27 COVID-positive patients, one of which is in critical care at Indian River Hospital.” That’s up 170 percent from the 10 patients hospitalized seven days prior.

One person died here with COVID-19 illness this the past week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Covid Data Tracker – down from six deaths the previous week. That brings Indian River County’s cumulative covid death toll to 691, nearly one third of whom were residents of nursing homes and assisted-living facilities.

Probably the most hopeful development for senior citizens awaiting their next COVID-19 booster shot came last Thursday as the White House announced plans to deliver a newly formulated vaccine, tweaked to combat the Omicron variant, sometime in September.

Nearly 64 percent of fully vaccinated Indian River County seniors age 65 and older have had at least one booster dose. That number goes down to 48 percent for all local residents age 5 and older.