New COVID cases in Marion County, MCPS continue to drop


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Posted February 28, 2022 | By Matthew Cretul
matthew@ocalagazette.com

Marion County Update

Marion County has now seen new COVID cases drop for six successive weeks, as the county registered 419 new cases during the week of Feb. 18 – Feb. 24, according to figures released by the Florida Department of Health (FLDOH) Friday evening.

The last time the county saw a rise in cases was when 3,130 cases were reported during the week of Dec. 31-Jan. 6 and 5,536 new cases were reported during the week of Jan. 7-13.

“The numbers are trending in the correct direction. It’s a welcome change for the community,” said Department of Health in Marion County Administrator Mark Lander in a press release.

The county’s cases per 100,000 and new case positivity both decreased as well.  The cases per 100,000 dropped from 190.1 to 112.5, and the positivity rate declined last week from 10.3% to 6.9%.

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

In Health and Human Services (HHS) hospitalization numbers last updated Feb. 25, 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.

For reference, HHS hospitalization numbers on Feb. 18 showed county hospitals reporting 89% of inpatient beds filled, with 17% being COVID patients. In addition, 90% of ICU beds were filled, with 17% being COVID patients.

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

Much like Marion County, cases fell across the state as a whole as Florida recorded 25,640 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 193.3 to 116.7, and new case positivity from 8.2% to 5.6%.

Florida recorded administering 49,023 doses of the vaccine last week, down from a 10-week high of 586,323 during the week of Dec. 10-16.

This brings the total state population of those ages 5 and up to 74%, the same percentage as the last three reports.

Specific to children ages 5-11, the state reported administering 4,453 doses of the vaccine last week, bringing the total number of children at least partly vaccinated to 368,674. The total population of children ages 5-11 in the state is just under 1.7 million, and figures released by the state showed 22% of them are now at least partly vaccinated against COVID-19, the same percentage as the last three reports, and by far the lowest population group in the state.

MCPS Update

Marion County Public Schools (MCPS) cases continued the downward trend seen across the county and state as well, as 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 in figures released on Tuesday morning.

Additionally, MCPS reported 37 students and two employees had been identified as direct contacts to a COVID-positive case confirmed by DOH.

For comparison, MCPS reported 108 cases for the week of Feb. 12-Feb. 18, with 91 students and 17 employees confirmed COVID-19 positive by the Florida Department of Health in Marion County, and 105 students and five employees had been identified as direct contacts to a COVID-positive case confirmed by DOH.

While the numbers show a downtrend and new case positivity has dropped to an acceptable level, the cases per 100,000 remain just above the threshold set by FLDOH for MCPS to consider having students wear face coverings.

According to FLDOH guidance, the county must be below 99.9 cases per 100,000 (currently at 112.5) and the new case positivity must remain below 10% (currently at 6.9%) for two weeks in order for coverings not to be required.