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The Latest on the Coronavirus — April

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Latest on COVID-19 in April — Updated
4/30/2021:
      Wipes are Clogging Sewage Systems New
      When Will Vaccines Get Full FDA Approval? — New
      Cruises May Conditionally Resume by Mid-July — New
      CDC Updated Its Masking Guidelines — New
      5 Million People Have Skipped Their Second ShotNew
     
If You've Had Covid, Do You Still Need to Vaccinate?New
      This Week's Statistics:
            Florida's COVID-19 Action dashboard — Updated
            Florida COVID-19 DOH dashboard — Updated
4/23/2021:
      Employers Urged to Give Employees Time Off for Immunization — New
      
Tsunami of New Cases and Deaths in India
 — New
     
WHO says Global Infections Highest Ever — New
      Laser Treatments Show Promise for Long-haul COVID-19 Symptoms — New
      FDA Ends its Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Pause — New
      This Week's Statistics
            Florida COVID-19 DOH dashboard — Updated
            Florida's COVID-19 Action dashboard — Updated

4/16/2021:
      Vaccine Etiquette After You've Been Vaccinated
      
5,800
 Fully Vaccinated People Got COVID-19
      
Johnson & Johnson Vaccine & Blood Clots

      This Week's Statistics
            Florida COVID-19 DOH dashboard
            Florida's COVID-19 Action dashboard

4/9/2021:
     
Double Mutant Variants Found
    
COVID-19 3rd Leading Cause of Death in 2020
    
Fewer Cases of Flu This Year Due to Staying Home and Wearing Masks
    
15 million doses of J & J vaccine ruined
    
Vaccines for Teens and Children Coming
     
Disney World Relaxing Its Mask Policy
     This Week's Statistics
           Florida COVID-19 DOH dashboard
           Florida's COVID-19 Action dashboard

4/2/2021:
     Promising News from Pfizer-BioNtech

     Doctors Advise Against Travel Immediately After Vaccination
    
Safe to Travel Two Weeks After 2nd Shot
    
5 Things to Do Before Laminating Your COVID Vaccination Card
     This Week's Statistics
           Florida COVID-19 DOH dashboard
           Florida's COVID-19 Action dashboard


Friday, April 30th

  • After toilet paper shortages, now wipes are clogging sewer systems. Utility companies warned people to not flush premoistened wipes down the toilet, but people keep using and flushing the wipes. One utility system that serves 1.8 million people says it dug 700 tons of wipes from its waste last year. The Washington Post says the problems recently sent sewage into a Maryland creek. Utilities say the wipes twist into ropy wads, either in a home’s sewer pipe or miles down the line, then congeal with grease and other cooking fats improperly put down drains to form sometimes massive "fatbergs" that block pumps and pipes, sending sewage backing up into basements and overflowing into streams. The word "fatberg" became big news in London when workers found a 40-ton wad of grease, wipes and other materials stuck in the sewer system. The collection was as big as a two-story bus. Bloomberg reports that some cities report a 50% pandemic-era increase in sewer backups and have become a costly headache across the nation. Watch video explaining the problem and blaming paper companies for convincing people to buy the product.
     
  • When will COVID-19 vaccines get full FDA approval? Normally it might take years for the FDA to approve a drug as safe and effective, but when faced with an emergency like the COVID-19 pandemic, the FDA can grant emergency use authorization when there are no alternatives for life-threatening diseases, allowing manufacturers to produce a vaccine for distribution. Even an emergency license is based on tens of thousands of doses administered in drug trials, but now that the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines have been distributed by the millions, the drug companies have even more evidence to present to the FDA. UNC Health produced a useful graphic showing the two lines of approval. Full approval likely includes a lot more data on safety, how long the vaccine will last, whether booster shots will be needed, whether they protect against variants, whether the vaccines can stop the pandemic by inhibiting both infection and transmission, etc. Infectious disease expert William Haseltine wrote a piece for The Hill and explained what else the FDA might want to know. Since the virus, its variants, efficacy (performance under ideal and controlled circumstances) of the vaccines and their effectiveness (performance under 'real-world' conditions) are still being studied and determined, none of the manufacturers are applying for full approval.
     
  • On Wednesday, the CDC said it's possible for cruises to resume in mid-July, if certain conditions are met. And, as with most travel guidelines during the pandemic, vaccinations will be key. Ships will be able to skip "simulated" test voyages if the cruise line can attest that at least 98 percent of the crew and 95 percent of passengers are fully vaccinated. Fully vaccinated people will now be able to take a simpler test like an antigen test when they embark, and local passengers who need to self-quarantine on shore may now pass that time at home if they live within driving distance. Instead of departing from the United States and heading to the Bahamas, Bermuda and Caribbean islands, ships will be starting their trips in those destinations beginning in June and July and working with health authorities there.
     
  • The CDC updated its masking guidelines on Tuesday. If you're fully vaccinated, you can go outside without a mask, but even fully vaccinated people should keep their distance and wear a mask if they are mingling with unvaccinated people. A new model from MIT researchers underscores why 6 feet of separation may be insufficient in many indoor settings. "Efficient mask use is the most effective safety measure, followed by room ventilation, then filtration," one of the study authors said. (Click on charts to enlarge them.)
     
  • The CDC says 5 million Americans have skipped getting the second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Some people say they are concerned about side effects, others say the supplies were too tight for them to get a second shot, and still others are frustrated after learning they may need a booster and annual shot. The CDC said the second shot is critical in helping protect people from the virus. We do not know yet how long one dose of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines will protect against the coronavirus. The double dose is estimated to offer protection for at least six months, probably longer. So if you don't get the second dose, you may be at risk for COVID as soon as a few months after your first shot. How the vaccine is supposed to work: the first shot is like showing your body a picture of a spike protein that it needs to fight (primes your body to fight it); the second shot is like a practice run that tricks your body into seeing that spike protein again, and your body jumps into action to fight it off (activates your immune system).
     
  • Some who have had the virus may think that they are already immunized, but there is no firm evidence that the antibodies that develop in response to SARS-CoV-2 infection are protective. If these antibodies are protective, it's not known what antibody levels are needed to protect against reinfection, so still get the vaccine. If you’ve had COVID-19, you’ll still need the vaccine for full protection from the virus. But it’s looking more and more as if your previous infection, and your body’s robust immune response, might have left behind a significant level of immunity — though, unfortunately, not quite enough to skip the vaccine. The vaccine reduces all the high-risk and high-mortality issues and puts us more into the flu-like illness category if we catch it.
     
  • Per the Florida Community Action dashboard as of Friday, April 30th, the state now has 2,503,683 residents testing positive for the first time (5,666 cases today, 37,172 cases this past week); 35,777 deaths since March 1st, 2020 (when this dashboard started up) (55 deaths today, 399 deaths this past week); 28,727 new people having been tested today, with a 17.825% positivity rate (DOH reported just a 5.66% positivity rate), with 6,073,726 residents being fully vaccinated.
     
    The breakdown of confirmed cases in our tri-county area is:
     
    • Sumter County: 11,324 cases since March 1st (15 cases today, 86 this week), 9 current hospitalizations, and 276 deaths since March 1st, 2020 (0 deaths today, 2 this week), 85 residents have been tested for the first time today, with a 17.6% positivity rate (DOH reported a 14% positivity rate), with 70,131 being fully vaccinated.
        
    • Lake County: 33,102 cases since March 1st, 2020 (88 cases today, 582 this week), 59 current hospitalizations, and 636 deaths (1 death today, 3 this week), 510 residents have been tested for the first time today, with a 17.3% positivity rate (DOH reported a 4.02% positivity rate), with 123,604 being fully vaccinated.
        
    • Marion County: 33,019 cases since March 1st, 2020 (62 cases today, 438 this week), 40 current hospitalizations, and 952 deaths (0 deaths today, -1 this week [someone must have come back from the dead]), 293 residents have been tested for the first time today, with a 21.2% positivity rate (DOH reported just a 6.36% positivity rate), with 97,451 being fully vaccinated.
       

    Click on the Florida Department of Health's (DOH) dashboard if you'd like to compare this dashboard/data portal with the DOH's.


Friday, April
23rd

  • On Wednesday, President Biden urged employers to pay workers to take time off for vaccine appointments and recovery in remarks Wednesday. "I'm calling on every employer large and small in every state to give employees the time off they need, with pay, to get vaccinated," Biden said. The president also announced the country was on track to reach 200 million doses administered by the week's end. "No working American should lose a single dollar from their paycheck because they chose to fulfill their patriotic duty of getting vaccinated."
     

  • Hospitals in India are running out of oxygen, morgues are filling and COVID-19 cases are rising at a rate of more than a quarter of a million new cases per day, but this time it is predominately the young taking up the beds. The case count Thursday surpasses a previous world record set by the United States earlier this year, when more than 313,000 infections were reported on January 8th. The tsunami of new cases has been blamed on more contagious virus variants, a slow-moving vaccination campaign, and recent changes in behavior that saw many abandon public health restrictions, partly fueled by irresponsible statements from several political leaders, many from the ruling government itself, leading people to believe that India had defeated COVID-19. The Guardian reports that, unlike the first outbreak, "In Delhi, 65% of cases are under 40 years old." They are out of vaccine, hospital beds, oxygen.
     
  • The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) said Friday that an alarming rise in COVID-19 cases has pushed global infections toward their highest level in the pandemic, its highest ever. Click on this interactive to explore the data. As you can tell from the illustration (click on image to enlarge it), Brazil and India are the hottest hot spots. While cases are rising in more than half of the states in America, the global picture is grim. More than 139 million  COVID-19 cases have been reported worldwide, with 2.9 million deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. One of the WHO’s main priorities is to increase the ambition of COVAX, an initiative working for global equitable access to Covid vaccines, to help all countries end the pandemic, but the COVAX plan was expected to deliver almost 100 million vaccines to people by the end of March, but has only distributed 38 million doses. WHO has also condemned what it describes as a "shocking imbalance" in the distribution of vaccines between high- and low-income countries.
     
  • Coronavirus vaccine news dominates the headlines as cases and hospitalizations increase, but there is still a need for treatments. A small study finds laser treatment may hold promise for COVID-19 symptoms. Dr. Scott Sigman, an orthopedic surgeon, demonstrated the cold laser therapy he uses at his Chelmsford clinic to treat chronic pain that is often be caused by inflammation.  A patient of Dr. Sigman's was being treated for shoulder pain and had been diagnosed with covid last May. The doctor suggested the treatment for her difficulty breathing and cough that lingered into fall. By the third treatment, she realized she was no longer short of breath or coughing and she could walk up steps again. Dr. Sigman thought the cold laser therapy could work on the lungs of other long-haul covid patients. The FDA authorized him to perform a small study of five patients, with one showing marked improvement. "We saw the pulse oximeter increasing immediately as the treatment was going. He was breathing better." The results of the study were just published in the Journal of Inflammation Research. "The virus still has to get eradicated through the normal process, but the crazy inflammation that creates the ground glass appearance in the lungs with patients not being able to breathe, that process gets blocked," Sigman said. The treatment has potential to help those struggling with long-haul COVID-19 symptoms.
     
  • The FDA just ended its 10-day Johnson & Johnson vaccine pause tonight, but a warning about potential blood-clot risks will be added for healthcare providers and recipients. Shots can begin as early as Saturday. The CDC is expected to release an analysis of the blood clot issue in its in-house journal, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report next week.
     
  • I am no longer documenting both the Florida's Department of Health (DOH) dashboard and Florida's COVID-19 Community Action statistics (both developed by Rebekah Jones). (Click on images to enlarge them.)  The statistics between the two continues to be quite different and the Community Action dashboard provides so much more relevant information. I've provided the overall DOH stats for the state only, not the tri-county stats. The link for the DOH dashboard is below so you can open it and see for yourself.
     
    Per the Florida Department of Health's (DOH) dashboard as of Friday, April 23rd, cumulatively the state has now had 2,155,319 residents testing positive for COVID-19; with 89,201 residents hospitalized; and 34,696 deaths; 82,646 residents have been tested, with a 5.95% positivity rate.
       
    As you can see on the upper right graph (orange), the last time this information was updated was 4/15/2021, so they are not updating the data and/or are selectively updating certain metrics to make it appear like they are updating the  information. I will not even bother to show the DOH's data for the state next week because it is so corrupted or manipulated that it is utterly useless.

     

     
    Per the Florida's Community Action dashboard as of Friday, April 23rd, the state now has 2,471,973 residents testing positive for the first time (5,464 cases today, 42,560 cases this past week); with 3,486 residents currently hospitalized; 35,443 deaths since March 1st, 2020 (when this dashboard started up) (65 deaths today, 443 deaths this past week); 23,068 new people having been tested today, with a 26.715% positivity rate (DOH reported just a 5.95% positivity rate), with 5,554,268 residents being fully vaccinated. The breakdown of confirmed cases in our tri-county area is:
    • Sumter County: 11,249 cases since March 1st (11 cases today, 116 this week), 12 current hospitalizations, and 274 deaths since March 1st, 2020 (0 deaths today, 4 this week), 68 residents have been tested for the first time today, with a 16.2% positivity rate (DOH reported a 4.74% positivity rate), with 67,598 being fully vaccinated.
        
    • Lake County: 32,595 cases since March 1st, 2020 (76 cases today, 621 this week), 53 current hospitalizations, and 633 deaths (0 deaths today, 5 this week), 402 residents have been tested for the first time today, with a 18.9% positivity rate (DOH reported just a 5.32% positivity rate), with 113,852 being fully vaccinated.
        
    • Marion County: 32,664 cases since March 1st, 2020 (88 cases today, 442 this week), 39 current hospitalizations, and 953 deaths (0 deaths today, 5 this week), 359 residents have been tested for the first time today, with a 24.5% positivity rate (DOH reported just a 8.44% positivity rate), with 91,503 being fully vaccinated.


Friday, April 16th

  • Vaccine Etiquette: As vaccinated Americans mingle with those waiting their turn and those reluctant to get the shots, the rules of etiquette are changing as we enter a new phase of the pandemic. Several personal advice and etiquette experts give guidance on greeting people, politely asking if they've been vaccinated, whether it's rude to go without a mask after being vaccinated, welcoming visitors who aren't vaccinated, if someone is behaving irresponsibly, dining out, tipping delivery drivers, etc. We’re really talking about how we can all help each other move forward. It's about we, not me, which is what etiquette is about. We need to continue to think of ourselves as larger communities where we’re each trying to protect each other. The CDC also provides guidance along with videos on the topic, and has revised its public health recommendations.
     
  • The CDC says 5,800 Americans who have been fully vaccinated have gotten COVID-19. That means breakthrough cases represent significantly less than 1% of fully-vaccinated people. This lines up with two peer-reviewed studies published in recent weeks (study one and study two). Keep in mind that while the vaccines do not guarantee 100% protection, they greatly reduce your chance of getting sick. Even for those who get infected after vaccination, very few become severely ill. Here is what the data does show:
    • About 40% of the infections were in people older than 60, but breakthrough cases occurred among all age groups.
    • 65% were women.
    • 29% of the breakthrough infections were reported as asymptomatic.
    • 7% of people with breakthrough infections were known to be hospitalized.
       
  • The roll-out of the one-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine is still paused. The very rare cases under review involve blood clots combined with low levels of blood platelets occurring within two weeks of vaccination. Symptoms include: shortness of breath, chest pain, leg swelling, persistent abdominal (belly) pain, neurological symptoms, including severe and persistent headaches or blurred vision, tiny blood spots under the skin beyond the site of injection. Out of 7 million shots given of the vaccine, only 6 women developed a blood clot and one of the women died (it's less than one in a million). Basically, CVST with low blood platelet count prevents blood from draining out of the brain, causing a brain bleed. And, because of low platelet counts, patients have internal bleeding that can be fatal. Since CVST (cerebral venous sinus thrombosis) cases are usually treated with heparin (a blood thinner), the CDC is especially concerned about how to treat blood clots that might be associated with a vaccine.
     
  • I am no longer documenting both the Florida's Department of Health (DOH) dashboard and Florida's COVID-19 Community Action statistics (both developed by Rebekah Jones). (Click on images to enlarge them.)  The statistics between the two continues to be quite different and the Community Action dashboard provides so much more relevant information. I've provided the overall DOH stats for the state only, not the tri-county stats. The link for the DOH dashboard is below so you can open it and see for yourself.
     
    Per the Florida Department of Health's dashboard as of Friday, April 16th, cumulatively the state has now had 2,115,191 residents testing positive for COVID-19; with 106,502 residents hospitalized; and 34,330 deaths; 107,653 residents have been tested, with a 6.83% positivity rate.
    As you can see on the upper right graph (orange), there was a huge spike in cases on Monday (4/12), with over 9,000 new cases reported, a slight drop to over 6,000 new cases on Tuesday & Wednesday, with the number of cases increasing to over 7,000 new cases yesterday.
     
    Per the Florida's Community Action dashboard as of Friday, April 16th, the state now has 2,410,332 residents testing positive for the first time (6,762 cases today, 44,286 cases this past week); with 3,262 residents currently hospitalized; 34,907 deaths since March 1st, 2020 (when this dashboard started up) (78 deaths today, 345 deaths this past week); 28,491 new people having been tested today, with a 22.825% positivity rate (DOH reported just a 6.83% positivity rate), with 4,779,216 residents fully vaccinated. The breakdown of confirmed cases in our tri-county area is:
    • Sumter County: 10,966 cases since March 1st (13 cases today, 123 this week), 9 current hospitalizations, and 267 deaths since March 1st, 2020 (0 deaths today, 3 this week), 120 residents have been tested for the first time today, with a 10.8% positivity rate (DOH reported a 7.86% positivity rate), with 62,426 being fully vaccinated.
        
    • Lake County: 31,641 cases since March 1st, 2020 (109 cases today, 715 this week), 52 current hospitalizations, and 626 deaths (0 deaths today, 3 this week), 476 residents have been tested for the first time today, with a 22.9% positivity rate (DOH reported just a 5.88% positivity rate), with 95,488 being fully vaccinated.
        
    • Marion County: 32,001 cases since March 1st, 2020 (59 cases today, 357 this week), 44 current hospitalizations, and 947 deaths (3 deaths today, 9 this week), 309 residents have been tested for the first time today, with a 19.1% positivity rate (DOH reported just a 8.41% positivity rate), with 79,071 being fully vaccinated.


Friday, April 9th

  • Stanford researchers say they have discovered five new cases of what they are calling a "double mutant," meaning two variant versions of the virus spotted in a single strain. Medical officials have been warning about this possibility. We are not fighting one version of the virus, we are fighting many versions, and those strains have the capacity to join forces and create still more variants. This double mutant was first spotted in India, where there was a 55% increase in cases in one part of the country. What we do not know is whether these mutations will make our vaccines less effective or make the virus more contagious. It is one more reason to get vaccinated as quickly as you can.
     
  • The numbers are preliminary, but it appears that COVID-19 was the third leading cause of death in 2020. COVID-19 bumped "unintentional injuries" down the list, which also includes chronic respiratory disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, kidney disease, influenza and suicide. 
     
  • It is not what a lot of people want to hear, but fewer people caught the seasonal flu this year because people stayed home and wore masks. Which raises the reasonable question of whether we will keep wearing masks. A study released this month found that across 44 children’s hospitals, the number of pediatric patients hospitalized for respiratory illnesses is down 62%. Adults aren’t getting sick either. U.S. flu deaths this season will be measured in the hundreds instead of thousands. In 2018-19, a moderate flu season, an estimated 34,200 Americans died. Some experts think more societies should embrace masking, but others think that's not practical. Infectious-disease expert Dr. Ricardo Franco says at the very least, health care workers will routinely wear masks all the time at work.
     
  • News leaked that 15 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine were ruined in a manufacturing mistake two weeks ago and the big question was did any of those doses make it to vaccination lines? According to Johnson & Johnson, the mistake was contained at the factory so safety of the vaccine is not in question. All of the doses in the pipeline right now came from Johnson & Johnson’s plant in The Netherlands; the mistake happened at the plant of a subcontractor, Emergent BioSolutions, in Baltimore. Johnson & Johnson issued a statement Wednesday night to address concerns. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is the only one-dose shot approved for use in the United States.
     
  • Good preliminary news about vaccines for teens. Pfizer says it will be ready to hand over the results of its latest field trials involving 12- to 15-year-olds in about a month. It says the tests, so far, show the vaccine is 100% effective, but it's only one month of data so it's too early to tell if the numbers will hold up over time. Vaccinating children is crucial to ending the pandemic because they make up around 20% of the U.S. population. Between 70% and 85% of the U.S. population needs to be vaccinated against Covid to achieve herd immunity. The vaccine has already been authorized for those 16 and older. Moderna has started its testing in children under the age of 12 and Johnson & Johnson plans to test its single-shot vaccine on infants and even newborns after testing older children.
     
  • Disney World announced Tuesday that it will be relaxing mask policy for guests taking pictures outdoors. The park's guidelines still require masks to be worn at all times except for dining, swimming, and now outdoor photos. The masks, according to the guidelines must be made with at least two layers of breathable material, fully cover the nose and mouth, fit against the side of the face and be secured with ties or ear loops and be hands-free.
     
  • I am no longer documenting both the Florida's Department of Health (DOH) dashboard and Florida's COVID-19 Community Action statistics (both developed by Rebekah Jones). (Click on images to enlarge them.)  The statistics between the two continues to be quite different and the Community Action dashboard provides so much more relevant information. I've provided the overall DOH stats for the state only, not the tri-county stats. The link for the DOH dashboard is below so you can open it and see for yourself.
     
    Per the Florida Department of Health's dashboard* as of Friday, April 9th, cumulatively the state has now had 2,072,053 residents testing positive for COVID-19; with 86,706 residents hospitalized; and 33,968 deaths;** 107,653 residents have been tested, with a 6.51% positivity rate.
     
    Per the Florida's Community Action dashboard as of Friday, April 9th, the state now has 2,354,757 residents testing positive for the first time (7,939 cases today, 39,743 cases this past week); with 3,038 residents currently hospitalized; 34,562 deaths since March 1st, 2020 (when this dashboard started up) (86 deaths today, 419 deaths this past week); 30,545 new people having been tested today, with a 20,963% positivity rate (DOH reported a 6.51% positivity rate), with 4,053,597 residents fully vaccinated. The breakdown of confirmed cases in our tri-county area is:
    • Sumter County: 10,711 cases since March 1st (14 cases today, 125 this week), 13 current hospitalizations, and 264 deaths since March 1st, 2020 (0 deaths today, 6 this week), 127 residents have been tested for the first time today, with an 11% positivity rate (DOH reported a 7.5% positivity rate, with 57,972 being fully vaccinated.
        
    • Lake County: 30,723 cases since March 1st, 2020 (148 cases today, 499 this week), 52 current hospitalizations, and 623 deaths (1 death today, 5 this week), 610 residents have been tested for the first time today, with a 24.3% positivity rate (DOH reported a 6.92% positivity rate), with 82,637 being fully vaccinated.
        
    • Marion County: 31,534 cases since March 1st, 2020 (71 cases today, 334 this week), 26 current hospitalizations, and 938 deaths (0 deaths today, 13 this week), 348 residents have been tested for the first time today, with a 20.4% positivity rate (DOH reported a 4.78% positivity rate), with 68,697 being fully vaccinated.


Friday, April
2nd

  • Promising news emerged from an ongoing trial of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. After 6 months of follow-up on a 12,000 study of participants show that the inoculation's efficacy and safety are sustained over time. The results also suggest that this vaccine may be effective against the B.1.351 coronavirus variant first detected in South Africa, which has caused concern for its ability to evade some forms of immunity. The data have yet to be peer-reviewed and published, but Pfizer said it will submit the data to regulators worldwide soon and plans to file an application for full approval in April here in the United States. How long protection lasts is still a mystery.
     
  • Doctors advise against traveling immediately after your vaccination and should wait at least two weeks after their last shot to allow the vaccine time to develop both antibody and cellular immune responses, which are critical for protection. In addition, the vaccine’s side effects might temporarily dampen any strong urge to leave the couch. The Centers for Disease Control and Protection warns that the vaccine can trigger headaches, muscle pain, chills, fever and nausea, among other discomforts and can be more intense after the second shot, but that's intended. The vaccine is putting your immune system through it paces for combating the virus. Because none of the vaccines is 100% effective and fully vaccinated individuals can potentially contract and transmit the coronavirus asymptomatically, the CDC urges people to continue to wear masks and social distance. Of the millions of vaccinated people, 5% will still get covid.
     
  • Today, federal health officials gave the green light for travel by fully-vaccinated people since an estimated 100 million Americans have had at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine and evidence is mounting of the shots' effectiveness. The long-awaited guidance from the CDC is welcome news for the growing number of vaccinated adults who want to visit family members and take vacations. The agency updated its guidance because of several newly-released studies documenting the strong real-world effectiveness of coronavirus vaccines in protecting against infection and spread of the virus, as well as the rapid pace of vaccinations, with close to 3 million people being vaccinated a day. For domestic travel, people who are 2 weeks past their final shot no longer need to get a coronavirus test before or after trips, and no longer need to self-quarantine after travel.
     
  • Thanks to Ed Fillman for passing along the article in MarketWatch about 5 things you should do before having your COVID vaccination card laminated, how to keep the card safe, and what to do if your card is lost or damaged. The Tampa Bay Times warns that lots of people who have had their cards laminated are finding that the hot lamination process may make some information on the cards unreadable. This may not be true everywhere, but if the information on your card like the name of the drug maker or a lot number was printed with a thermal printer, lamination may make the information illegible. WMAQ-TV in Chicago says it is possible that you will have to add more information on your card, even after you get your second shot (e.g., if there is a booster shot). 
     
  • I am showing statistics from both dashboards/data portals: Florida's COVID-19 Dept. of Health (DOH) statistics and Florida's COVID-19 Community Action statistics (both developed by Rebekah Jones). (Click on images to enlarge them.)  The statistics between the two continues to be quite different.
    From Florida's Department of Health (DOH) stats below, the state is
    obviously doing minimal testing, and if not testing, the number of cases and the positivity rate is kept artificially low. I suspect the state has shifted its personnel and other resources into getting residents vaccinated, but renders some of the metrics it is counting and publishing meaningless.
     
    Per the Florida Department of Health's dashboard* as of Friday, April 2nd, cumulatively the state has now had 2,032 residents testing positive for COVID-19; with 85,538 residents hospitalized; and 33,586 deaths;** 104,286 residents have been tested, with a 6.1% positivity rate. The breakdown of confirmed cases in our tri-county area is:

    • Sumter County: 8,823 cases (8,724 residents, 103 non-residents); 558 resident and 1 non-resident hospitalizations; with 257 deaths; a mere 291 residents tested, with a 5.15% positivity rate.
        
    • Lake County: 26,862 cases (26,411 residents, 451 non-residents); 1,385 resident and 35 non-resident hospitalizations; with 609 deaths; 1,445 residents tested, with a 5.67% positivity rate.
        
    • Marion County: 29,169 cases (29,025 residents, 144 non-residents), 1,967 resident and 12 non-resident hospitalizations, with 923 deaths; 1,111 residents tested, with a 5.94% positivity rate.

    * The new data includes the number of test results the department receives from the counties, along with additional demographics and graphs that show hospital admissions for patients complaining of cough, fever or shortness of breath. Previously, that data was only provided for larger counties. Still not included is how many infected people have recovered from the virus and, unlike other states, Florida does not report "probable" deaths from the virus.
     

    *
    * The newest reported deaths are the latest logged into the DOH system, and that process could take as long as two weeks or longer before they show up.
     
     

    Per the Florida's Community Action dashboard as of Friday, April 2nd, the state now has 2,321,086 residents testing positive for the first time (6,490 cases today, 38,428 cases this past week); with 2,856 residents currently hospitalized; 34,239 deaths since March 1st, 2020 (96 deaths today, 483 deaths this past week); 30,545 residents have been tested today, with a 20,825% positivity rate (DOH reported a 6.1% positivity rate — a whopping 14.725% difference), with 3,501,600 residents fully vaccinated. The breakdown of confirmed cases in our tri-county area is:
    • Sumter County: 10,615 cases since March 1st (15 cases today, 139 this week), 8 current hospitalizations, and 258 deaths since March 1st, 2020 (0 deaths today, 14 this week), 96 residents have been tested today, with a 15.6% positivity rate (DOH reported a 4.17% positivity rate — a 10.45% difference), with 53,116 being fully vaccinated.
        
    • Lake County: 30,264 cases since March 1st, 2020 (86 cases today, 514 this week), 46 current hospitalizations, and 620 deaths (2 deaths today, 9 this week), 421 residents have been tested today, with a 20.4% positivity rate (DOH reported a 4.47% positivity rate — another whopping 14.73% difference), with 74,531 being fully vaccinated.
        
    • Marion County: 31,259 cases since March 1st, 2020 (64 cases today, 346 this week), 29 current hospitalizations, and 928 deaths (3 deaths today, 9 this week), 312 residents have been tested today, with a 20.5% positivity rate (DOH reported a 5.68% positivity rate — another whopping 14.56% difference), with 61,795 being fully vaccinated.


See what had been learned about the virus in
March.


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