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COVID positives rise in Franklin, fall in Gulf

Gulf County is seeing continued improvement in its positivity
rate for COVID-19, while Franklin County is going in the opposite direction

According to a news release from the Florida Department of
Health serving both counties, during the first week of August, nearly two out
of every five people tested for the coronavirus in Franklin County, 136 out of
359, or nearly 38 percent, were positive. This represented a five-week long
escalation in positivity rates in the county, from about 6 percent in the first
week of July.

Gulf County has seen a steady, slow decline in positivity, down to
where in the first week of August, only one in five, or 96 out of 440, or 22
percent, were positive. This represents a 7 percentage point drop over each of
the previous two weeks, and is slightly below where things stood the first week
of July.

In addition, vaccination rates have been creeping up in both
counties to 46 percent, still below the state average of 65 percent.

The state’s lowest vaccination rates against COVID-19 are in
11 other rural North Florida counties where fewer than 40 percent of people had
received at least one vaccine dose. The 11 counties below 40 percent were
Baker, Calhoun, Dixie, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Holmes, Lafayette, Liberty,
Suwannee, Taylor and Washington.

Holmes had the lowest rate at 28 percent, followed by
Hamilton at 33 percent and Calhoun and Liberty at 34 percent. By contrast,
Miami-Dade County had the highest rate at 83 percent.

“The vast majority of cases in Franklin and Gulf counties
are unvaccinated individuals,” read a news release issued last week by the
department. “The vast majority of all patients being hospitalized in Florida
are unvaccinated individuals. Hospitals have seen a rapid spike in hospitalizations
due to the spread of the more contagious delta variant of COVID-19.”

The release stressed that “the best defense against COVID-19
is the vaccine. COVID-19 vaccines are effective and are a critical tool to
bring the pandemic under control. The vaccine helps protect you and the health
of the broader community. 

“If you still get COVID-19, the vaccine has been proven to
reduce the severity of illness, hospitalization, and death,” it read.

The health department urged parents to not send their children
to school if they have symptoms of VOID-19, which commonly include headache,
fever or chills, shortness of breath of difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle
or body aches, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny
nose, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea.

It advised people to stay home if they are not feeling well,
waiting on test results or positive for COVID-19. “We cannot stop the spread of
COVID-19 if you do not follow your isolation orders,” it said.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has revised the
emergency use authorization for REGEN-COV monoclonal antibody therapy authorizing
it for emergency use as post-exposure treatment for COVID-19. “REGEN-COV is not
authorized to prevent COVID-19 — only after exposure to the virus,” read the
release. “Treatment with REGEN-COV is not a substitute for vaccination against
COVID-19. People should talk to their health care provider about whether the
use of REGEN-COV for post-exposure prophylaxis is appropriate for them.”

The health department and other medical providers continue
to offer the COVID-19 vaccine at no cost. To schedule with the health
department, please call DOH-Franklin at (850) 653-2111 or DOH-Gulf at (850)
227-1276. Vaccines are also available through Weems Memorial Hospital, PanCare
of Florida, Inc., North Florida Medical Center and local pharmacy locations,
including CVS and Buyrite.

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Meet the Editor

David Adlerstein, The Apalachicola Times’ digital editor, started with the news outlet in January 2002 as a reporter.

Prior to then, David Adlerstein began as a newspaperman with a small Boston weekly, after graduating magna cum laude from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. He later edited the weekly Bellville Times, and as business reporter for the daily Marion Star, both not far from his hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

In 1995, he moved to South Florida, and worked as a business reporter and editor of Medical Business newspaper. In Jan. 2002, he began with the Apalachicola Times, first as reporter and later as editor, and in Oct. 2020, also began editing the Port St. Joe Star.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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