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County COVID cases hit triple digits

Tim Croft
tcroft@starfl.com

A month or so ago, the Florida Department of Health in Gulf County departed from daily updates to three times a week as cases reached double digits.

A general rule of thumb statewide for disseminating public information was to scale back releases, and repeating similar information, once county cases reached 10.

This week, the county’s cases hit triple digits, 101 positive cases as of Wednesday, as the state seems to set records almost daily.

According to Johns Hopkins, positive coronavirus cases in Florida, California and Texas represent one fifth of the global cases.

Gulf County, after going nearly two months with just a single case has seen cases spike since Memorial Day and the opening of vacation rentals and beaches.

“The virus is here,” said Sarah Hinds, Administrator of the Florida Department of Health in Gulf and Franklin County.

During a workshop of the Gulf County School Board earlier this week discussion, in part, focused on at least two middle school athletes who tested positive while participating in summer conditioning.

To date, none of the county’s cases has resulted in hospitalization, let alone death.

Of the 101 positive cases recorded in the county, 96 were residents and bucking a national trend which has seen minority communities particularly hard hit, nearly 70 percent of county cases involve whites.

The health department’s focus, as it has ramped up testing the past two months, remains on containing the spread and protecting the vulnerable, Hinds said.

The best way to prevent the virus, as with most any virus, is hand-washing with warm water and soap, which helps break down the fat that protects the virus’ protein molecule, according to Johns Hopkins.

Water should be at least 77 degrees, according to the Johns Hopkins website.

In addition, any mixture that is at least 65 percent alcohol (and, no, that does not mean adult spirits) will also strip down the fatty layer protecting the virus.

The website also noted that Listerine is 65 percent alcohol.

And open cuts or sores are also points of entry, according to the website; the virus can not permeate healthy skin.

Hinds also emphasized social distancing and reducing potential contact with a positive case, which occurs when an individual is within six feet for 15 minutes or more of a positive individual.

As schools prepare to open next month, she stressed the importance of “spreading” students out as much as possible, particularly in common areas.

The department is also stressing the wearing of masks in cases where full social distancing is not possible.

The other recommendations sound all too familiar during spring and fall virus seasons.

If you are sick, stay home; if your child is ill keep them home.

If planning to visit Gulf County and feeling ill, please remain home.

As of Wednesday, the county health department had performed 2,440 COVID tests with a testing day coming up July 27 at the Honeyville Community Shelter.

Statewide, there were 287,789 positive cases.

Since the beginning of the event, there have been 18,881 hospitalizations and 4,409 residents have died with more than 100 non-residents dying in the state.

The Florida Department of Health COVID dashboard can be found at https://experience.arcgis.com/experience/96dd742462124fa0b38ddedb9b25e429