The Perfect Enemy | COVID in Florida: Indoor masks recommended in 10 counties - Palm Beach Post
April 10, 2024

COVID in Florida: Indoor masks recommended in 10 counties – Palm Beach Post

COVID in Florida: Indoor masks recommended in 10 counties  Palm Beach Post

Florida’s COVID caseload has fallen nearly to pre-winter surge levels and hospitalizations are nearly there. Here’s what the latest data show:   

New COVID cases dropping

11,514 new infections this week, much lower than the nearly 18,000 recorded last week and the fewest since the week ending Nov. 3. (Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)  

1,268 hospital patients — the fewest since Nov. 27. (Source: Health and Human Services Department) 

Gov. Ron DeSantis has yet to fulfill a promise he made in January 2022 to differentiate between people who get hospitalized because of COVID and those who test positive while in the hospital for another reason. Such data would give a more accurate picture of the disease’s severity. 

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Latest sewage data still shows good news

Wastewater, which reveals coronavirus trends sooner than official case counts, shows pre-surge viral levels in every Florida county where sewage is tested — Palm Beach, Miami-Dade, Alachua, Leon, Hillsborough, Pinellas, Orange and Seminole. 

The number of coronavirus particles found in sewage from those counties remains low, according to readings from Boston-baseed Biobot Analytics and the WastewaterSCAN national initiative. The latest WastewaterSCAN data comes from Monday. The latest Biobot data was released Wednesday. 

Should you mask up indoors? 

As COVID continues to recede, the CDC recommends indoor masking in just one cluster of Florida counties spanning from the Gulf Coast to the Georgia border: Alachua, Bradford, Columbia, Dixie, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Lafayette, Levy, Suwanee and Union.  

COVID cases and hospitalizations remain high enough in those counties that federal officials recommend indoor masking to avoid straining hospitals in the region. Florida cities and counties cannot enforce such requirements because DeSantis has banned them through laws or executive orders. 

New deaths below 200 for first time in months 

174 more deaths recorded this week, the fewest since the week ending Jan. 12. (CDC data). 

Fatalities can take weeks to enter official statistics.  

Florida vaccination rates still among nation’s worst  

29.5% — Floridians 65 and older who have gotten the latest booster*   

41.4% — Seniors boosted nationwide**   

11% — Floridians up to date on shots 

16.2% — Americans up to date   

86,460 Floridians killed, excluding more than 3,000 that state auditors discovered in 2020, which the state Health Department did not count

More than 7.5 million infected in Florida — more than 1 in 3 residents.   

*Those 65 and older comprise the vast majority of COVID deaths.  

**Only Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana seniors have less protection than Florida’s.   

Chris Persaud is The Palm Beach Post’s data reporter. Email him Click @ChrisMPersaud and follow him on Twitter