Latest on COVID-19 in May
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The Latest on the Coronavirus — May

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Latest on COVID-19 in May — Updated
      5/21/2021:

          It's Better for the Vaccinated, but Not for the Unvaccinated — New
          People are Misinterpreting the New Mask Guidance
 — New
         
Avoiding a Resurgence of COVID-19 in the Fall — New
          Recent Breakthrough Cases in the News — New
         
Pandemic's Global Death Toll Could Be as High as 8 Million — New
          This Week's Statistics:
              
Florida's COVID-19 Action Data Portal — Updated

                  
Florida COVID-19 DOH Data Portal
      5/14/2021:
     
     Mask Requirements Eased for the Fully Vaccinated — New
          Sporting Events: Vaccinated & Unvaccinated Sections
 — New
         
Unvaccinated Were 99.7% of COVID-19 Cases — New
         
2 Shots of Different Vaccines May Boost Immunity — New
          This Week's Statistics:
              
Florida's COVID-19 Action Data Portal — Updated

                  
Florida COVID-19 DOH Data Portal
     
5/7/2021:

          New Data on Pfizer-BioNTech Effective Against Variant
         
Half of New COVID-19 Cases Come from 5 States
          Fines for Not Wearing Mask & Bad Behavior on Airlines
         
Most Americans Favor Requiring Proof of Vaccination
          If not under the weather after your shot, is it working?
          This Week's Statistics:
              
Florida's COVID-19 Action Data Portal

                  
Florida COVID-19 DOH Data Portal


Friday, May
21st

  • As cases and deaths continue to drop and the pandemic lessening, especially for vaccinated people, families and friends are reuniting across America after months of separation and heartbreak. Here are some of their stories: A piano class resumes. A congregation celebrates in person again. Come for the hugs and embraces, stay for the babies meeting for the first time (you'll love this!). But for those who aren’t vaccinated, the situation is quite different. The case rate among unvaccinated people susceptible to infection is 69 percent higher and infections continue to rage among the unprotected, so while it appears that things are getting better, it's not necessarily better for those who haven't been or can't be vaccinated. See what your state’s situation looks like for the unvaccinated.
     
  • The updated Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guide to masks wasn't meant to end mask mandates, though some have interpreted the recommendations that way. Dr. Fauci thinks people are misinterpreting, thinking that this is a removal of a mask mandate for everyone. It’s not! The new masking advice is supposed to reassure vaccinated people that they can feel safe inside or outside. And with the relaxed mask guidelines, many continue to be confused, but it's not that difficult. If you have been fully vaccinated and everyone you are socializing with is fully vaccinated, you can relax and remove your masks. However, if there might be someone at your gathering who's unvaccinated or only partially vaccinated, continue to wear a mask and social distance. Remember, at this point in the pandemic, wearing a mask is not about protecting yourself; it's about protecting others who may not be protected. Of course, fully vaccinated or not, you must continue to wear a mask in healthcare settings, on public transportation, attending a crowded event, or entering businesses that require them.
     
  • On Thursday, Dr. Fauci said the U.S. could avoid another resurgence of COVID-19 cases in the fall if 70% of the nation’s adults are vaccinated by July 4th. If we continue to get people vaccinated at the rate we have been, there will be enough protection in the community that he doesn't foresee the risk of a surge. According to the CDC, so far 60.5% of people over 18 have gotten at least one dose of vaccine, and 48.4% are fully vaccinated. The worst surge happened last fall and early winter, when up to 300,000 cases were being reported daily, along with more than 3,000 daily deaths.
     
  • The New York Yankees announced they have eight confirmed COVID-19 cases among fully vaccinated members of their staff, players, and coach. Taping of "Real Time with Bill Maher" was cancelled when Bill Maher tested positive during a routine test. He was fully vaccinated, asymptomatic, and felt fine. Since there are so few of these cases, it isn't known whether fully-vaccinated people with no symptoms can transmit the virus to others, but Maher is self-isolating to be on the safe side. We are reminded that the promise of vaccines is a lower likelihood of infection and much lower likelihood of severe outcomes, so the fact that all but one of these individuals had no symptoms shows that the vaccine is working. The shots provide exceptional protection against sickness and death from the virus.
     
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates the pandemic’s global death toll could be as high as 8 million dead, much greater than the official count of 3.4 million. The current lower figure is likely a reflection of countries underreporting cases and death tolls, which has long been a problem amid the health crisis. Factors like lack of testing, confusion over other possible causes of death, and questionable data from some governments muddy the waters. In the United States, it could be more than 905,000, significantly higher than the 588,000 cited by coronavirus resource centers and officials.
     
  • Per the Florida Community Action dashboard as of Friday, May 21st, the state now has 2,622,267 residents testing positive for the first time (2,893 cases today, 20,103 cases this past week); 37,076 deaths since March 1st, 2020 (when this dashboard started up) (77 deaths today, 428 deaths this past week); 22,589 new people having been tested today, with a 17.346% positivity rate (DOH reported just a 4.55% positivity rate), with 7,392,426 residents being fully vaccinated. Pediatric (under 18 yrs.):  a total of 280,170 cases, 10.9% positivity rate for the week, 12 deaths, 9,753 ER admissions, and 1,790 currently hospitalized.
     
    The breakdown of confirmed cases in our tri-county area is:
     
    • Sumter County: 11,898 cases since March 1st (9 cases today, 48 this week), 4 current hospitalizations, and 279 deaths since March 1st, 2020 (0 deaths today, 0 this week), 61 residents have been tested for the first time today, with a 14.8% positivity rate (DOH reported a 5.37% positivity rate), with 75,836 being fully vaccinated. Pediatric (under 18 yrs.):  483 cases, 13% positivity rate for the week, 0 deaths, 21 ER admissions, and 2 currently hospitalized.
        
    • Lake County: 35,248 cases since March 1st, 2020 (67 cases today, 458 this week), 56 current hospitalizations, and 657 deaths (1 death today, 7 this week), 335 residents have been tested for the first time today, with a 20% positivity rate (DOH reported a 12.34% positivity rate), with 141,291 being fully vaccinated. Pediatric (under 18 yrs.):  3,524 cases, 15% positivity rate, 0 deaths, 128 ER admissions, and 23 currently hospitalized.
        
    • Marion County: 34,409 cases since March 1st, 2020 (29 cases today, 219 this week), 33 current hospitalizations, and 983 deaths (3 deaths today, 13 this week), 206 residents have been tested for the first time today, with a 14.1% positivity rate (DOH reported just a 5.05% positivity rate), with 125,446 being fully vaccinated. Pediatric (under 18 yrs.):  3,284 cases, 10.3% positivity rate, 0 deaths, 143 ER admissions, and 17 currently hospitalized.
       

    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, May 14th

  • Thursday brought welcome news to pandemic-weary Americans. More and more Americans have been fully vaccinated, the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths have been declining, at least for now, and confidence in the vaccine has grown. There is a growing body of real-world evidence demonstrating the efficacy of the coronavirus vaccines and that the shots offer protection against even the more contagious variants, that breakthrough infections in those who are fully vaccinated is rare and less severe when they occur. With so much more data available, this good news has prompted the CDC to revise its restrictions (click on image on the left to enlarge it) on wearing masks and social distancing for those who are fully vaccinated, paving the way toward some sense of normalcy. Unvaccinated people are still at risk of mild or severe illness, death, or spreading the disease to others and should get vaccinated right away. The relaxation of masking does not apply to airplanes, buses, trains and other public transportation, to health-care settings, or where state or local restrictions still require them.
     
  • As sports fans return to stadiums, arenas and ballparks, those who have been vaccinated and those who haven't may be seated in separate sections. Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday that when the first pitch is delivered June 1st, Sahlen Field will allocate half of its seats for vaccinated fans with full capacity, with the other half set aside for unvaccinated individuals. Social distancing must be followed and masks worn in the unvaccinated section. They did the same thing at a minor league game in Tacoma, Washington.
  • New data from a Cleveland Clinic study shows the effect of the coronavirus vaccines on infections among health care workers and patients who are hospitalized with COVID-19 between January 1st and April 13th. The Clinic found that 99.7% of its caregivers who tested positive for COVID-19 in the four months after the health system started offering vaccines were not fully vaccinated. And when the researchers looked at the 47,000 workers at the hospital, it found that only 0.3% of those infected had been fully vaccinated. In addition, 99.75% of the 4,300 coronavirus patients admitted to Clinic hospitals during that period were not fully vaccinated. The data underscores that while the vaccines are not entirely infallible, they are highly effective.

  •  Giving two doses of different vaccines could boost immune response. Typically, if you get a COVID-19 vaccine that requires two doses, you get two of the same vaccine. But in the future, that could change. This idea of using two types of vaccines, known as heterologous vaccination, isn't a new concept. Shortages of a vaccine or concerns about side effects may induce health officials to adopt a mix-and-match strategy. Using two different vaccines is a bit like giving the immune system two pictures of the virus. Gritstone bio is one of the manufacturers developing two different vaccines: a viral vector vaccine< and an mRNA vaccine. The viral vector vaccine is very good at stimulating the production of CD8 T cells, which allow T cells to sense and respond to diverse types of infection.
     
  • Per the Florida Community Action dashboard as of Friday, May 14th, the state now has 2,602,391 residents testing positive for the first time (4,064 cases today, 24,561 cases this past week); 36,649 deaths since March 1st, 2020 (when this dashboard started up) (50 deaths today, 371 deaths this past week); 28,945 new people having been tested today, with a 17.538% positivity rate (DOH reported just a 4.15% positivity rate), with 7,327,823 residents being fully vaccinated.
     
    The breakdown of confirmed cases in our tri-county area is:
     
    • Sumter County: 11,850 cases since March 1st (5 cases today, 41 this week), 4 current hospitalizations, and 279 deaths since March 1st, 2020 (0 deaths today, 3 this week), 75 residents have been tested for the first time today, with a 6.7% positivity rate (DOH reported a 1.64% positivity rate), with 74,372 being fully vaccinated. Pediatric (under 18 yrs.): 477 cases, 14.6% positivity rate for the week, 0 deaths, 21 ER admissions, and 2 currently hospitalized.
        
    • Lake County: 34,788 cases since March 1st, 2020 (98 cases today, 417 this week), 43 current hospitalizations, and 650 deaths (1 death today, 5 this week), 665 residents have been tested for the first time today, with a 14.7% positivity rate (DOH reported a 5.95% positivity rate), with 141,607 being fully vaccinated. Pediatric (under 18 yrs.): 3,450 cases, 13.1% positivity rate, 0 deaths, 124 ER admissions, and 22 currently hospitalized.
        
    • Marion County: 34,193 cases since March 1st, 2020 (47 cases today, 298 this week), 29 current hospitalizations, and 970 deaths (-2 deaths today [resurrected?], 0 this week), 311 residents have been tested for the first time today, with a 15.1% positivity rate (DOH reported just a 5.62% positivity rate), with 115,031 being fully vaccinated. Pediatric (under 18 yrs.): 3,239 cases, 12.5% positivity rate, 0 deaths, 140 ER admissions, and 17 currently hospitalized.
       

    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, May 7th

  • New real-world data from Qatar suggests that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is effective against two of the coronavirus variants. The shots are 75% effective at blocking the variant first found in South Africa (B.1.351) that can evade parts of the body's immune response and 90% effective at preventing infections caused by the variant first detected in the United Kingdom (B.1.1.7). The inoculation was particularly protective against severe or fatal cases of COVID-19. The Qatar study used real-world data from a mass vaccination program that began in late December. Of those receiving just one shot by the end of March, the vaccine was just 17% effective against the South Africa variant and just 30% effective against the United Kingdom one, which underscores the importance of getting both doses of the two-shot vaccine.
     
  • Nearly half of new COVID-19 cases come from just five states: New York, Michigan, Florida, Pennsylvania and New Jersey accounted for 44% of all new infections between March 29 and April 4 with about 197,500 cases out of around 452,000 seen nationwide, data from John Hopkins University show. Great job, Florida! We continue to top the charts, and not in a good way.
     
  • A JetBlue passenger was hit with more than $32,000 in federal fines for refusing to wear a mask, throwing food and an empty alcohol bottle, yelling obscenities at crew members, and more. The FAA is also taking action against a Southwest Airline passenger that faces $16,500 in fines for refusing to wear a mask, using "combative" and "offensive" language, and hitting an attendant with a bag as being expelled from the plane. Another passenger is being fined $9,000 for refusing to wear a mask. The FAA announced it would also take more aggressive action against passengers who refused to follow crew members’ instructions following several in-flight disturbances linked to the Jan. 6th riots at the U.S. Capitol. Since Feb. 2, domestic airlines say they have refused service to 2,500 people who refuse to wear a mask, not all incidents reported to the FAA.
     
  • Recent new polling from Gallup found that most Americans favor requiring proof of vaccination to travel by airplane (57%) or to attend events with large crowds (55%). The survey included "3,731 adults, aged 18 and older, who are members of the Gallup Panel. Gallup uses probability-based, random sampling methods to recruit its Panel members." I have seen polling from Canada where the idea of vaccine passports is a lot more popular. Same for Brits. This Gallup survey tracks pretty closely with other polling from the pharmaceutical industry and some other private polling. And again, Florida is one of three states banning proofs of vaccination, causing popular cruise lines to consider stopping operations from the state and preventing Floridians from traveling outside the U.S. and maybe to some other states. On a related note, there is a growing demand and market for fake COVID-19 health certificates that international travelers need to cross borders. 
     
  • If feeling under the weather after a COVID-19 shot is a sign that the vaccine is doing what it should, what if you feel nothing? Does it mean your vaccination isn't working? Vaccine experts tell us that we all react differently, and some people have a slower immune response. A person’s age and overall health may affect how they feel the effects of a vaccination, as well. The immune system responses that produce post-vaccination symptoms are thought to be triggered by proteins called toll-like receptors, which reside on certain immune cells. These receptors are less functional in older people, who are also likely to have chronic, low-grade activation of their immune systems that mutes the more rapid response to the vaccine. Roughly half of those vaccinated with the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines, in particular women, experience unpleasantness to varying degrees. While the symptoms show your immune system is responding to the vaccine to protect you against disease, evidence from clinical trials showed that people with few or no symptoms were still protected because other parts of their immune systems are responding more gradually to the vaccine, creating specific types of cells needed to protect against the coronavirus. So relax. You're good.
     
  • Per the Florida Community Action dashboard as of Friday, May 7th, the state now has 2,563,944 residents testing positive for the first time (4,504 cases today, 30,864 cases this past week); 36,257 deaths since March 1st, 2020 (when this dashboard started up) (73 deaths today, 480 deaths this past week); 27,569 new people having been tested today, with a 17.487% positivity rate (DOH reported just a 4.79% positivity rate), with 6,663,786 residents being fully vaccinated.
     
    The breakdown of confirmed cases in our tri-county area is:
     
    • Sumter County: 11,677 cases since March 1st (19 cases today, 86 this week), 4 current hospitalizations, and 276 deaths since March 1st, 2020 (0 deaths today, 0 this week), 110 residents have been tested for the first time today, with a 17.3% positivity rate (DOH reported a 2.59% positivity rate), with 71,763 being fully vaccinated. Pediatric (under 18 yrs.): 470 cases, 11.9% positivity rate, 0 deaths, 21 ER admissions, and 2 currently hospitalized.
        
    • Lake County: 34,092 cases since March 1st, 2020 (68 cases today, 443 this week), 57 current hospitalizations, and 645 deaths (2 deaths today, 9 this week), 430 residents have been tested for the first time today, with a 15.8% positivity rate (DOH reported a 4.79% positivity rate), with 133,167 being fully vaccinated. Pediatric (under 18 yrs.): 3,375 cases, 15.6% positivity rate, 0 deaths, 119 ER admissions, and 21 currently hospitalized.
        
    • Marion County: 33,723 cases since March 1st, 2020 (59 cases today, 443 this week), 40 current hospitalizations, and 970 deaths (5 deaths today, 18 this week), 338 residents have been tested for the first time today, with a 17.5% positivity rate (DOH reported just a 6.82% positivity rate), with 105,048 being fully vaccinated. Pediatric (under 18 yrs.): 3,192 cases, 14.7% positivity rate, 0 deaths, 136 ER admissions, and 17 currently hospitalized.
       

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


See what had been learned about the virus in
April.


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