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Cases, positivity rates for COVID-19 subsiding

By Tim Croft
The Star

The light at the end of the tunnel continued to become a bit brighter this past week. 

But with flu season around the corner, however, there is little slowing down for the Florida Department of Health in Gulf County. 

According to the FDOH-Gulf, there were just 10 new positive cases since last Friday when the week’s positivity rate for the prior week was reported at 7 percent. 

That is the second consecutive week the positivity rate has fallen, from 9 percent the previous week, and that county’s rate has been below 10 percent, which has been the target for months. 

Six weeks ago, Gulf County was at 20 percent positivity. 

State positivity rates are hovering under 6 percent, according to the FDOH dashboard. 

“We are continuing to provide testing at our health department,” said Sarah Hinds, Administrator of the Florida Department of Health in Gulf and Franklin County. 

“We might see an overall decrease in testing totals this week.” 

As of press time for this edition, the county had 846 positive cases, an increase of just 21 cases since the same time last week. 

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

The total number of deaths has risen in the past week from 12 to 13 and there have been 50 hospitalizations. 

As of press time, there were 642,775 positive cases statewide, up from 624,116 positive cases the week before. 

Statewide hospitalizations have increased from 38,859 to 40,195 and deaths from 11,421 to 12,067. 

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

“We have available hospital capacity and we have ICU capacity in neighboring counties,” Hinds said. 

In addition, Hinds said, the number of individuals arriving at emergency rooms with flu or COVID-19-like symptoms is dropping as is the median age of positive cases. 

Hinds said the department closely monitors progress being made on any COVID-19 vaccines and will “work closely with state leadership to provide more information to the public.” 

And, given the pending arrival of flu season, some of the basics can not be overstated. 

“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 has also relaxed restrictions on visitation at long-term care facilities, Hinds said. 

And that just about completes the county update on COVID-19. 

Now, onto flu season. 

As Hind emphasized, flu season is around the corner and vaccines should be available now. 

“Remember to vaccine before Halloween,” Hinds said. “Adult flu vaccinations are expected to arrive this week.”