Florida COVID deaths hit new record as immunizations drop to lowest level in months

By Chris Persaud, The Palm Beach Post, Sept 3, 2021

For the third week in a row, Florida posted more COVID-19 deaths than ever before as it reported fewer people getting the second dose of the vaccine than at any point since winter.

The state’s coronavirus death toll climbed 2,345 people this week, a comparison of Florida Health Department reports published Friday and Aug. 27 shows. The increase was 36% higher than last week.

No state has seen that many deaths in one week for six months, according to an analysis of pandemic data collected by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Florida’s death toll sits at 46,324, the state reported Friday. Fatalities can take weeks, sometimes months, to enter official state reports.

Health officials documented just 95,208 people receiving their second doses of the vaccine, the lowest weekly sum since Jan. 27. A Health Department spokeswoman did not immediately respond Friday afternoon to a question on why the reported difference was so low.

A total of 10,880,393 Florida residents are fully vaccinated, or 56.9% of the eligible population ages 12 and older.

A total of 13,124,436 people have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

For the first time, the state’s weekly report includes the number of people who got additional booster shots beyond the second doses: 178,794.

The state logged 129,202 more infections in the past week, slightly lower than the all-time weekly highs of around 150,000 recorded in the previous three weeks.

Florida’s COVID-19 infection rate is higher than any other state except Tennessee, the CDC reported Friday. Newly reported infections across Florida cover more than six of every 1,000 residents.

Statewide, 15.2% of coronavirus test results documented over the past week came back positive, a dip from the Aug. 20 high of 19.8%.

Health experts have recommended a positivity level below 5% for at least two weeks before considering the airborne virus under control. Florida hasn’t reported such low levels consistently since June 25, before the highly infectious delta variant of the pathogen took hold.

The number of COVID-19 cases among students and staff in Palm Beach County public schools hit 3,908 Friday, according to the school dashboard. The count that began on the first day of school, Aug. 10, surpasses the sum for all of last year —  3,875.  The cases this year include 3,396 students, 185 of whom were reported positive for the virus Sept. 2.

The number of students out of school due to asymptomatic illness or close contact with someone who is sick totaled 4,822 as of Thursday evening, the district reported.

USA TODAY National Data Solutions Editor Mike Stucka and Palm Beach Post staff writer Sonja Isger contributed to this story.