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The Delta variant, deadlier and more contagious than the original COVID strain, is making its way through Florida at a time when the number of new cases is rising.
So far, Delta has infected 280 people across 34 Florida counties, a newly released state report shows.
Those infected include 82 people in Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties — including a child under the age of 4.
As Delta spreads, Florida reported a 35% increase in new COVID cases for the week ending July 1. New cases are on a clear upward trend, rising to 15,978 for the week, from 11,873 for the week ending June 24 and 10,629 for week ending June 17.
Test positivity took a big jump, too, rising to 5.2% from 3.8%.
Even as case counts rise, Floridians are shedding their masks. As of July 1, Gov. Ron DeSantis has suspended all outstanding local COVID-19 emergency orders and related public health restrictions.
Public health officials say they are concerned that those who are unvaccinated will let down their guard over the holiday weekend. In Florida, only 43% of residents are fully vaccinated, the state reported Friday.
For the week ending July 2, the majority of new COVID cases are among people in the 30- to 39-year-old age group. However, overall 20- to 29-year-olds represent the group with the majority of COVID cases throughout the pandemic.
In total, 2,337,613 people in Florida have tested positive for COVID.
- Palm Beach County reported 909 additional cases, up from 774 a week prior. The county now has a total of 149,073 confirmed cases among residents during the pandemic.
- Broward County reported 1,500 additional cases, up from 1,187 a week prior. Broward has a known total of 247,298 cases among residents with COVID since the beginning of the pandemic.
- Miami-Dade County reported 3,059 new cases, up from 2,231 a week prior. The county now has a total of 504,470 confirmed cases among residents with COVID since the beginning of the pandemic.
Public health experts say the virus is considered under control when the COVID-19 test positivity rate is under 5%. Florida often has exceeded 5% in its widely publicized calculation for assessing the rate for testing of residents.
The state reported a positivity rate of 5.2% on Friday, up from 3.8% the week before. This method of calculating positivity counts new infections only but also counts repeat negative tests, which skews the figure downward.
In South Florida, the positivity rate was 3.9% in Broward, up from 3.1% a week earlier; 4.3% in Palm Beach, up from 3.4% a week earlier; and 3.6% in Miami-Dade, up from 2.8% a week earlier
Across the state, 1,868 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 for the seven-day period ending June 29, according to the latest White House report. In comparison, 1,724 were hospitalized the previous week. A week earlier, 1,723 people were hospitalized with COVID-19.
On Friday, the state reported 213 additional deaths from COVID-19.
Last week’s health officials reported 217 additional deaths.
The state’s pandemic data report shows a total of 37,985 Floridians have died from COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.
Vaccinations continue to decline dramatically. Only 248,721 doses were administered for the week, compared with 315,013 doses a week earlier.
As of Friday, 58% of Floridians are vaccinated with at least one dose, only 1% more than last week.
In recent weeks, vaccines have become a hard sell in Florida. The drop-off is an indication Florida providers and health officials will need to work harder to use up the more than 8.4 million doses allocated but not used.
More than 11 million Floridians have had one or more doses of a COVID vaccine as of Friday.
In Florida, 1,512,667 people have received their first dose of the vaccine, and 9,489,046 people have completed the series of two doses required to be fully vaccinated.
The 65-and-older age group represents the highest number of people vaccinated.
Florida’s newly released COVID variant report shows all of the CDC’s variants of concern are now in the state.
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The Alpha variant, first detected in the UK, continues to make up the majority of cases in the state.
However, the report shows the highly contagious Delta has made its way into Florida, too.
So far in Florida, four people have died from Delta and five have been hospitalized. However, there are 90 cases in which the outcome of those identified with Delta are unknown.
As concern about the highly transmissible Delta COVID-19 variant and its spread among the unvaccinated continues to grow, Johnson & Johnson announced its one-dose shot protects against Delta variant, citing lab tests of vaccine recipients’ blood.
Public health experts say the variant poses the most danger in counties where vaccinations are sparse. In Florida, 20 counties have less than 40% of residents 12 and older vaccinated for COVID with at least one dose, according to the Department of Health’s Friday update.
Sun Sentinel health reporter Cindy Goodman can be reached at email@example.com.