COVID-19 surge continues in Marion

A registered nurse takes out the next syringe of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in this Jan. 5 file photo. [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette]
For a fourth straight week, COVID-19 cases nearly doubled in Marion County, according to records released by the Florida Department of Health.

Local cases jumped from 652 for the week ending July 16 to 1,056 cases as of July 23. The positivity rate also jumped from 14.7% to 18.5% over the same period.

“We are seeing a large increase in cases among residents who are not vaccinated,” said Department of Health in Marion County Administrator Mark Lander. “The vaccine remains one of our best tools to prevent severe illness with COVID-19. We encourage you to get vaccinated to protect yourself and your family.”

Hospitalizations in the county were up to 92 for the week ending July 23, according to numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Of those in the hospital, all but three were unvaccinated, according to a report from a local dashboard operated by Dr. David Kuhn of Trinity Clinic.

Last week the number of hospitalized was 61, and a week before, it was 33.

In addition to getting vaccinated, Lander said it’s important to follow basic mitigation practices to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“Stay home when you are sick. This is one of the most important steps you can take to help prevent the spread of disease,” Lander said. “If you are not fully vaccinated, the CDC recommends that you wear a mask when in crowded or indoor public places, especially if you will have close contact with others who are not fully vaccinated. If you are someone who is older or more medically vulnerable, consult with your physician to see if additional precautions should be taken.”

The spike in cases seems to have spurred a jump in vaccinations locally. Marion County reported 2,025 vaccinations last week, up from 1,384, for the week ending July 16.

The number of people in Marion County receiving at least one dose of the vaccine is 169,557, or about 52% of those 12 and older. The county still lags the state average of 60%.

New cases also are surging across the state, with 73,199 cases recorded as of July 20, compared to 45,584 a week earlier.

Marion County recorded its first case of the delta variant in early July. Updated numbers on the number of variant cases locally were not immediately available.

Governor Ron DeSantis has stated that even with the increasing number of cases throughout the state, there will be no mandates requiring vaccinations, masks, or social distancing.

On July 22, the Central Florida division of AdventHealth announced limits to elective procedures due to the surge in cases. The move did not include AdventHealth Ocala, which is part of the west Florida division. AdventHealth Ocala representative said the hospital would continue to operate as it has for the time being.

Ocala Health is also continuing to operate under similar rules previously in place since before the latest surge.

Meanwhile, the Department of Veterans Affairs on Monday announced they will require health care workers to get COVID-19 vaccines.

Starting this week, the local DOH will provide vaccines on Thursdays and Fridays.

Thursdays:

9:30-11:30 a.m. at Rainbow Lake Estates Oberman Building at 4040 SW Deepwater Ct., Dunnellon.

1:30-3:30 p.m. at Marion Oaks Community Center at 280 Marion Oaks Lane, Ocala

Fridays:

3:00-6:00 p.m. at McIntosh Civic Center at 5835 Avenue F, McIntosh

Vaccines are also available at the Florida Department of Health in Marion County’s main office at 1801 SE 32nd Ave. Monday through Friday by appointment.

Many retail pharmacies and health care providers are also offering COVID-19 vaccines.

Anyone age 12 and older can receive the Pfizer vaccine, and anyone age 18 and older can receive a Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

To learn about COVID-19 and vaccination opportunities, visit marion.floridahealth.gov and marionflcovid.org.

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