COVID-19 vaccines up, cases down in Marion County

Preston Bowlin, the director of Emergency Management for the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, speaks about COVID-19 during a Marion County Commission meeting in Ocala, Fla. on Tuesday, March 16, 2021. [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette] 2021.

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Posted March 16, 2021 | By Brendan Farrell, Ocala Gazette

Preston Bowlin, the director of Marion County Emergency Management, speaks about COVID-19 during a Marion County Commission meeting on Tuesday. [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette]

At Tuesday’s county commission meeting, Emergency Management director Preston Bowlin gave out updates on Marion County’s current situation with COVID-19 cases and vaccinations.  

The county has seen a decrease in cases and the positivity rate for the ninth week in a row. Cases went down from 437 to 302, and the positivity rate dropped from 5.73% to 4.54%, according to Bowlin.  

He added that 72,635 people in Marion County have been vaccinated, with 42,611 fully immunized. Bowlin said that the county received the Johnson & Johnson one-shot vaccine last week and has distributed it to 1,047 people.  

“Primarily, because of scheduling, we’re really pushing that for our law enforcement, first responders, teachers at this point here,” he said. 

In Marion County, 57% of the 65-and-up population has been vaccinated, up from 41% two weeks ago. Bowlin said that the county is 17th out of Florida’s 67 counties in vaccinated 65-and-up population.  

Currently, vaccines are still for the staff and residents of long-term facilities, health care providers, K-12 teachers that are 50 and older and people determined by a physician to be vulnerable to the virus. The state is on track to lower the age requirement to 55 and older, and Bowlin said it could happen towards the end of this week or next week.  

Marion County’s increased vaccination efforts come on the heels of two community outreach missions at the On Top of the World retirement community and the Florida Horse Park. Over 2,700 residents at On Top of the World were immunized between March 5 and March 7, while another 1,879 received their shots at the Florida Horse Park on March 8 and March 9.  

Bowlin also said that there are plans for single-shot vaccine sites to work up to 3,000 shots per day. He added that they will have another outreach mission at Reddick-Collier Elementary.  

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