CDC: 50,000 Floridians dead due to Covid

By Chris Persaud,  Palm Beach Post, USA TODAY NETWORK, Sept 18, 2021.

It took nearly six months for Florida’s COVID-19 death toll to climb to about 40,000 from 30,000, but just over a month for the state to surpass 50,000 lives lost to what health officials are increasingly calling a preventable disease. COVID-19 has killed 50,811 Florida residents, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Thursday, based on data it collects from the state. Florida health officials stopped reporting daily fatality counts to the public in June, instead sending statistics directly to the CDC.

The latest update shows Florida’s death toll actually surpassed 50,000 on Sept. 5. The state retroactively added fatalities that it said had occurred in the past few weeks.

The death toll surpassed 30,000 on Feb. 7 and 40,000 on July 31, the latest state data shows.

About one in 11 newly reported deaths this month came from Florida. The state has had the second-highest number of fatalities — 1,875 this month — behind only Texas. That’s about 9.2% of this month’s 20,407 victims across the country.

The highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus ripped through the state’s unvaccinated starting in late June, causing hospitals to fill up. More than 80% of COVID-19 patients in Palm Beach County, for example, are not fully inoculated, county emergency department reports have shown.

The vaccine is free of charge for recipients and available, with no appointment needed, in many places such as Publix, CVS and Walgreens.

While Florida’s latest infection surge — its biggest yet — is on the decline, the state’s death toll continues to spike because it can take weeks for the airborne pathogen’s victims to show up in official statistics the state sends to the CDC.

The CDC reported 9,315 new infections as of Wednesday, down from the biggest one-day spike of 27,786 on Aug. 26.

This week, for the first time since June 3, the public could see how many people in each of Florida’s 67 counties COVID-19 has killed.

And fatality rates are worse in counties where fewer residents are vaccinated, an analysis of data collected by the CDC shows.

In Palm Beach County, for instance, where 65% of vaccine-eligible residents ages 12 and older are fully vaccinated, the death toll climbed by 127 during the week that ended Sunday.

That’s a smaller increase than the less populated, less vaccinated Hillsborough County — 58% of eligible residents fully inoculated — which added 144 victims.

“Many of the deaths with COVID are in the elderly with multiple high-risk conditions,” Dr. Alina Alonso, director of Palm Beach County’s state-run Health Department, said.

“We have a very high rate (of vaccination) for the elderly in the 90% range,” she added. “This is a significant factor to lower death numbers. We are proud to report that our vaccination rate continues to climb. My hope is that more and more of those unvaccinated will continue to protect themselves, their families and their community.”