Though the number of COVID-19 infections in Brevard County remain significantly high, and hospital ICU bed availability remains low, case rates on the Space Coast continue to trend downwards, according to data released by Florida Department of Health Friday.
According to the data, Brevard County saw a 22 percentage point decrease in COVID-19 cases since the week prior, however infection rates are still very high. From Jan. 21 to Jan. 27, the Space Coast had 1001.8 cases per 100,000 population; which means that there were 6,123 people infected with COVID-19 during that time. The new case positivity rate went down this past week to 27% from 30.2% a week earlier.
Based on CDC transmission guidelines, these rates make Brevard County a community of high transmission. A community of high transmission is one that has over 100 cases per 100,000 population and a case positivity rate of over 10%.
COVID-19 vaccine tracker: How many Brevard County residents are fully vaccinated?
To be a community of low transmission, Brevard County would need to have a new case positivity rate below 5% and have less than 10 cases per 100,000. A rate the Space Coast almost achieved the week of Nov. 12, before omicron's rapid nationwide spread, when there were 37.1 cases per 100,000 population and a new case positivity rate of 2.4%.
Despite the high infection rate, Brevard County's vaccination rate has seen no change for three weeks and only 69% of the eligible population — those ages five and older— have been vaccinated as of Jan. 27.
John Davis, community health nursing director at FDOH-Brevard, emphasized that vaccinations are one of the main tools residents can use to avoid hospitalization.
During the first few weeks of omicron's spread, Space Coast hospitals didn't see an increase in hospitalizations because it takes two weeks for the deaths and hospitalization rates to follow spikes and ebbs in case rates. However, in January 2022 hospitals saw an increase in the COVID-19 hospitalizations.
Now, though inpatient hospitalizations decreased by 12% statewide, according to Davis, hospitals countywide are seeing an increase in COVID-19 ICU patients.
Data from the US Department of Health and Human Services showed that Parrish Medical Center had 33% of its ICU beds available as of Jan. 24. And at Health Firsts four hospitals, Holmes Regional Medical Center had 10.29% of its ICU beds available; Palm Bay Hospital had 0% of its ICU beds available; Viera Hospital had 5% of its ICU beds available; and Cape Canaveral had 8.33% of its ICU beds available as of Jan. 24.
According to Natalie Sellers, Parrish Medical Center spokesperson, there were a total of 437 COVID-19 patients between Jan. 1 and Jan. 27 at the hospital. In a social media post, Health First reported that it had 176 COVID-19 patients as of Jan. 25.
Despite the increase in hospitalizations and case rates due to the highly-contagious omicron variant of the novel coronavirus, the death rate has not reached last summers rates.
Based on provisional data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 10 COVID-19 related deaths from Jan. 15 to Jan. 22. Since Jan. 2020 there have been 1,759 COVID-19 related deaths in Brevard County.
Statewide, COVID-19 cases also remain at record highs. From Jan. 21 to Jan. 27, there were 904.3 cases per 100,000 and a new case positivity rate of 23.5%, according to FDOH data.
According to FDOH, of the eligible population in Florida, age group vaccination rates across the state are:
Ages 5-11, 20% vaccinated
Ages 12-19, 60% vaccinated.
Ages 20-29, 62% vaccinated.
Ages 30-39, 71% vaccinated.
Ages 40-49, 79% vaccinated.
Ages 50-59, 83% vaccinated.
Ages 60-64, 90% vaccinated.
Ages 65+, 92% vaccinated.
Nationwide, there have been a total of 73,512,366 COVID-19 cases and 876,632 COVID-19 related deaths since the start of the pandemic according to CDC data. A total of 63.7% of eligible Americans have been vaccinated as of Jan. 28.
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Where to get tested:
The following Brevard County Emergency Management Office-supported sites are available for COVID-19 testing.
Florida Department of Health-Brevard, 2555 Judge Fran Jamison Way, Viera; 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. This is a walk-up site. Preregister at nomihealth.com.
Parrish Medical Center, 951 N. Washington Ave., Titusville; 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Sunday, This is a drive-thru site. No appointments are required.
West Melbourne Community Park, 3000 Minton Road, West Melbourne (use Fell Road entrance to the park); 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Sunday. This is a walk-up site, with preregistration recommended, but walk-ins are welcome. Preregister at patientportalfl.com.
Testing also is available to established or new Omni Healthcare patients at its offices in Brevard County. To book an appointment, patients can call their Omni doctor's office.
Various other urgent-care centers, private physicians' offices and pharmacies also provide COVID-19 tests, and some retailers sell in-home test kits. Additionally, the website www.211Brevard.org has a list of sites offering testing. Some of those sites require reservations, while others allow walk-ins.
Where to get vaccinated:
The Florida Department of Health is offering COVID-19 vaccines at three sites.
Melbourne clinic, 601 E. University Blvd., 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays. Those ages 5-11 can get vaccinated only from 1:30 to 4 p.m. on Friday.
Titusville clinic, 611 N. Singleton Ave., 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays. Those ages 5-11 can get vaccinated only from 1:30 to 4 p.m. on Friday.
Viera clinic, 2555 Judge Fran Jamieson Way, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays. Those ages 5-11 can get vaccinated only from 8 to 11:30 a.m. and 1 to 4 p.m. Monday to Friday.
Residents also can get vaccinated at Omni Healthcare's offices, as well as at its walk-in vaccination clinic located in Suite 303 on the third floor of 1344 S. Apollo Blvd. in Melbourne, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays. Vaccinations also are available from 9 a.m. to noon in Suite 2C of Omni's 1344 S. Apollo Blvd. complex
Walk-ins are accepted. But appointments can be made by calling 321-802-5515 or by emailing the request and including a name and phone number to COVID@OMNIhealthcare.com.
COVID-19 vaccines also are available at pharmacies at various local CVS, Publix, Sam’s Club, Walgreens, Walmart and Winn-Dixie stores, as well as some urgent-care centers and physician offices. Check the individual site for appointment requirements and vaccine availability.
Monoclonal antibody treatments:
Though the Brevard County monoclonal antibody site in Rockledge paused its distribution of the treatment on Tuesday after the Food and Drug Administration removed its authorization, OMNI Healthcare will continue to administer the monoclonal antibody treatment sotrovimab to patients dependent on the weekly allocation that OMNI Healthcare receives from the state of Florida.
Those interested in receiving the treatment can check whether supply is available that week on the website omnihealthcare.com and at covid19testbrevard.com. However, because of the nationwide shortage, eligibility is limited to patients who are unvaccinated and meet CDC guidelines. Treatment will be administered at OMNI's offices on 1344 S. Apollo Blvd. Suite 303 in Melbourne from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays and on 845 Century Medical Dr. Suite B in Titusville from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays.
This article originally appeared on Florida Today: COVID in Brevard: Coronavirus infection rates high, trending downward