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COVID positive cases, positivity rates in decline

By Tim Croft
The Star

There is light at the end of that tunnel that is COVID-19. 

According to the Florida Department of Health in Gulf County, there were just 10 new cases between Aug. 28 and Sept. 1. 

Further, last week’s positivity rate fell to 9 percent, under the 10 percent goal and less than half the positivity rate just a month ago. 

State positivity rates are just above 6 percent, according to the FDOH dashboard. 

“It is a great sign,” said Sarah Hinds, Administrator of the Florida Department of Health in Gulf and Franklin County. 

“Overall, things are going well. Cases have dropped. Our clinic team reports no clusters of any kind so far.” 

Hinds added that medical capacity, monitored daily, “remains stable.” 

In the public schools, Hinds added, school nurses, also health professionals are focused on keeping as many students in class as they can while meeting CDC guidelines. 

“We really appreciate the leadership of (Superintendent of Schools Jim) Norton and the school district staff,” Hinds said. 

She also noted the testing turnaround time is faster than in previous months. 

And some of the basics have not changed:  

“If you are sick, seriously, stay home,” Hinds said. “It may be just allergies, but it may not be.  

“Just stay home if you are not feeling well.” 

Practice social distancing while out and about and wear a face mask when one cannot socially-distance, according to the CDC. 

If an individual has had close contact with someone who tests positive, within six feet for at least 15 minutes, quarantine. 

The state is soon to allow visitation again at long-term care facilities, Hinds said. 

Hinds also emphasized the health department remains open to anyone who needs an appointment and continues to provide free COVID-19 testing. 

“I’d like to personally thank my entire public health team at the Florida Department of Health in Franklin and Gulf,” Hinds said. 

“They continue to work so hard to keep our communities as safe as possible. We know it’s not over, but we are watching our cases drop and statewide trends move in the right direction.”  

Hinds continued by adding that, “Public health staff have worked many late nights at the office and every weekend since March. We have certainly tried to be available to anyone who needed us anytime of the day in both counties.   

“And we have tried to turn any fear about this pandemic into community action to protect the most vulnerable. It has always been about protecting our most vulnerable residents. 

As of press time for this edition, the county had 827 positive cases, a drop from 891 last week at this time. 

More than 200 of those are inmates at Gulf Correctional Institution. 

The total number of deaths has risen in the past week from eight to 12. 

There have been 46 hospitalizations. 

As of press time, there were 624,116 positive cases, up from 599,176 the week before. 

Statewide hospitalizations have increased from 37,038 to 38,859 and deaths from 10,717 to 11,421.