County, MCPS, state, all see sustained decline in COVID cases


Dane Surdam, 12, gets a nasal swab from his mother, Julie, during COVID-19 testing in the parking lot of the First Baptist Church in Ocala, Fla. on Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021. [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette] 2021.

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Posted March 7, 2022 | By Matthew Cretul
matthew@ocalagazette.com

Marion County Update

New COVID cases in Marion County dropped for the seventh straight week, as the county registered 235 new cases during the week of Feb. 25 – Mar. 3, according to figures released by the Florida Department of Health (FLDOH) Friday evening.

“The community got some very good news in this week’s report,” said Department of Health in Marion County Administrator Mark Lander in a press release.  “Our hope is that we are on the downward slope with the virus. But we encourage the community to maintain the practices that helped us reach this point. Practice good personal hygiene, stay home if you are sick, take steps to safeguard others, and consider healthier lifestyle habits.”

In addition to new case numbers dropping, the county’s cases per 100,000 and new case positivity both decreased as well.  The cases per 100,000 dropped from 112.5 to 63.1, and the positivity rate declined last week from 6.9% to 3.6%.

According to FLDOH numbers, Marion County has registered 82,909 total cases of COVID since March 2020, when the first case was reported in the county.

While hospital numbers had remained high despite the declining number of cases, overall inpatient hospitalizations and ICU beds occupied have leveled out over the past three weeks, and COVID patients filling the beds have declined.

In Health and Human Services (HHS) hospitalization numbers last updated March 1, county hospitals reported 90% of inpatient beds filled, with 13% being COVID patients. In addition, 88% of ICU beds were filled, with 14% being COVID patients, the same numbers HHS posted on Feb. 25.

The Florida Department of Health – Marion is offering free vaccinations from 8:30–11:30 a.m. and 1–4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, at its main office, located at 1801 SE 32nd Ave., Ocala.  To make a vaccination appointment, go to tinyurl.com/MakeMarionFLVaxAppt.

In Ocala, COVID Test FL is offering testing at the Ocala First Baptist Church located at 2801 S.E. Maricamp Road. COVID Test Express is offering testing in the Villages at 11714 N.E. 62nd Terrace. Both locations are open Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-4 p.m.

State Update

As with Marion County, Florida saw cases fall across the state as a whole, as it recorded 14,148 new COVID cases for the week of Feb. 25 – March 3.  For reference, Florida reported 25,571 new COVID cases for the week of Feb. 18 – Feb. 24.

The last time Florida saw an increase in cases was when 393,663 new cases were recorded during the week of Dec. 31-Jan. 6 and 427,548 new cases were recorded during the week of Jan. 7-13.

As expected with the drop in cases, the state’s cases per 100,000 average and new case positivity both dropped as well.  Cases per 100,000 fell from 116.7 to 64.4, and new case positivity from 5.6% to 3.3%.  Both numbers have consistently fallen since the first of the year.

FLDOH reports show Florida has now reported 5,814,517 cumulative cases and 70,997 deaths.  The data also shows 74% of the state’s 20.8 million residents ages 5 and up have received at least one dose of the vaccination.

Additionally, according to the data, Marion County lags behind the state when it comes to the percentage of residents vaccinated, 63% to 74%.

MCPS Update

Marion County Public Schools (MCPS) cases continued the downward trend seen across the county and state as well, as MCPS reported 12 cases for the week of Feb. 26 –  March 4, with seven students and five employees confirmed COVID-19 positive by the Florida Department of Health in Marion County in figures released on Monday morning.

For comparison, MCPS reported 55 cases for the week of Feb. 19-Feb. 25, with 47 students and eight employees confirmed COVID-19 positive by the Florida Department of Health in Marion County, and 37 students and two employees had been identified as direct contacts to a COVID-positive case confirmed by DOH.

With the drop, the cases per 100,000 and new case positivity are now both to an acceptable level where MCPS no longer needs to consider having students wear face coverings.

According to FLDOH guidance, the county must be below 99.9 cases per 100,000 (currently at 63.1) and the new case positivity must remain below 10% (currently at 3.6%) for two weeks in order for coverings not to be required.