COVID-19 infections slow as vaccinations increase


Mark Lander [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette]

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Posted February 2, 2021 | By Brendan Farrell, Ocala Gazette 

Mark Lander [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette]

Marion County has seen a decrease in COVID-19 infections in recent days as the county continues to ramp up vaccinations.

Between Jan. 20-30, Marion County vaccinated at least 1,000 people per day on nine occasions, according to the Florida Department of Health.

The county’s positivity rate dipped below 10% for the first time since mid-December, according to Florida Department of Health in Marion County administrator Mark Lander.

The county reported 67 cases for Sunday, the fewest the county has reported since Jan. 3.

The county continues to work through the list of 50,000 vaccination appointments it booked back in December. Lander says that, while the county is still around the first 15,000 to 20,000 on the list, many have been vaccinated elsewhere.

“We’re finding, of that first 15,000 that we went through, about 3,500, you know, that we called have already been vaccinated elsewhere,” Lander said at Tuesday’s county commission meeting. “So, we’re getting a good percentage of individuals who’ve been able to either get vaccinated through Publix or another source, so it helps us move through that list a little quicker.”

Publix continues to be one of the places that Marion County residents have used to secure a vaccination. The supermarket chain offers COVID-19 vaccines at 12 locations in Marion County, including nine in Ocala. Lander says that Publix’s allotments are larger than the health department’s.

He also said that the county has vaccinated over 31,000 residents, including over 4,000 second doses. He expects this week to be a “really heavy week” for second doses while still doing first doses. Lander also said that the Paddock Mall site is vaccinating over 1,000 people per day.

“This week, we really expect those, the second doses,” he said. “By two weeks, when I come present again, you’ll see that second dose much higher than where we are right here.”

Walgreens and CVS have been in charge of immunizing long-term health care facilities, and 72% of the county’s nursing home residents have been vaccinated, according to Lander. For assisted living facilities, which are being administered by CDR Maguire under a private contract, 69% of residents have been vaccinated.

Moving forward, Lander discussed the Sharecare Software System, the statewide vaccination pre-registration system. Lander says that the county will move to Sharecare for registration once it gets through the list of 50,000 appointments. Registration for Sharecare can be found at myvaccine.fl.gov or call 866-201-6768 or the TTY number at 833-476-1519.

“So, in other words, if you’re already on our list, there’s no reason to go to Sharecare to register because we’re going to cut down our list first,” Lander said. “And once we’re done with that 50,000, then Sharecare will start to develop and send us their list and we’ll be using it.”