The Perfect Enemy | Florida sees slight drop in COVID cases, but other illnesses rise
December 2, 2022
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Florida saw a slight decline in COVID-19 cases last week, though the positivity rate for new cases rose slightly, state data showed Friday. 

Between Nov. 11 through Nov. 17, there were 11,632 new cases of COVID-19 throughout the state, according to Florida Department of Health statistics. That’s a small drop from the previous week, when there were 11,783 cases statewide.

Despite the small drop in cases, the new case positivity rate rose slightly, going from 7.8% the previous week to 8% this week, the department reported. 

The Health Department reported only 28 deaths from COVID-19 throughout the state — a small number compared to the 181 the U.S. Centers for Disease Control reported between Nov. 10 and Nov. 16.

Previously:COVID-19 cases increase on Space Coast, though hospitalizations and deaths fall

Last week’s report:Florida COVID cases rising again as BQ subvariants of omicron spread

Though there was a large discrepancy in the two agencies on COVID deaths, their case counts were similar, with the CDC reporting 11,828 new COVID cases. The federal agency reported a case rate of 55.1 per 100,000 people.

Between Nov. 10 and Nov. 16, there were about 178 new hospital admissions in Florida because of COVID, according to the CDC.

Between Nov. 11 and Nov. 17, 3,698 people received their first dose of a COVID vaccine, while 2,848 people completed their vaccination series, according to the Florida Department of Health. Also, 37,619 people received additional doses or boosters.

This data comes just after Pfizer announced Friday that its updated COVID-19 booster may help protect against the more recent omicron variants even through the booster is not an exact match.

These boosters, rolled out by Pfizer and Moderna in early September, targeted the BA.5 omicron strain, which was the most common COVID-19 strain until recently. However, with new relatives of BA.5 now rising, Americans are questioning how effective the booster shots will be.

Friday, Pfizer and its partner BioNTech said the updated booster created antibodies that fight four additional omicron subtypes, including one of the now-dominant strains, BQ.1.1. Moderna also recently announced evidence that its updated booster helped created BQ.1.1-neutralizing antibodies.

With winter approaching, COVID-19 isn’t the only disease plaguing Floridians. More than half of U.S. states have high or very high levels of flu, which is unusually high for this early in the season, according to a report by the government Friday. These states are mainly in the South and Southwest, but states in the Northeast, Midwest and West are rapidly seeing an increase as well.

Hospitalization rates from flu haven’t hit this height since the 2009 swine flu pandemic, according to CDC officials. Those experiencing the most hospitalizations are adults 65 and older and children under 5.

This unusually early rise in flu is happening when children’s hospitals are already dealing with an influx of RSV cases, or respiratory syncytial virus. This virus causes cold-like symptoms and can be serious for infants and the elderly.

What you need to know:About RSV, the flu and virus myths

More:RSV in infants and kids is threatening to overwhelm hospitals. What parents should know.

Despite the rise in flu cases, flu vaccinations have dropped from previous years, possibly because the past two seasons have been mild. The shot is recommended for almost everyone at least 6 months old or older.

RSV can be contracted by adults, too, and can be dangerous for older adults who have chronic illnesses. There is not a vaccine against it yet, though some are in development.

With Thanksgiving approaching, one infectious disease specialist urged Americans to take precautions before gathering, suggesting that it would be best to avoid public crowds, get tested for COVID-19 before seeing family or friends and wear masks indoors — especially if you’re going to be around anyone who is old or frail.

“Nobody wants to bring a virus to the table,” said Dr. William Schaffner of Vanderbilt University.

The American Academy of Pediatrics and Children’s Hospital Association last week urged the Biden Administration to declare an emergency and mount a national response to the surge of pediatric respiratory illnesses. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Finch Walker is a Breaking News Reporter at FLORIDA TODAY. Contact Walker at 321-290-4744 or Twitter: @_finchwalker

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