COVID positivity rate jumps in county

A sharp increase in the positivity rate for COVID-19 cases in Gulf County, and a flattening of the number of people getting vaccinated are prompting health officials to redouble their efforts to address the coronavirus.

Data from the Florida Department of Health shows that during the week of July 2 through 8, the county led the entire state in new case positivity with nearly 25 percent of those tested being found to have COVID-19.

The rate per 100,000 people is 168.6, about seven times the rate of Franklin County, and among the highest in the state.

Sarah Quaranta, director of the Florida Department of Health in Gulf and Franklin County, said the positivity rate is based on the number of people who test positive for the first time divided by all the people tested that week.

“This report shows 25 cases for that week. We have used two-week data reports in past reporting since our testing numbers are small, but this report uses weekly data,” she said. “Still, 25 cases is a climb in cases.

“In Gulf, there have been workforce exposures, family events and household transmission,” Quaranta said. “We continue to emphasize the importance of staying home when feeling ill to not expose the virus to others.

“We continue to support our local businesses and encourage them to implement preventative measures to protect their workers and customers,” she said. “Our local businesses work so hard for our communities and we are doing everything we can to make sure they can continue to operate as safely as possible.

“We continue to support workplaces and they know the drill – positive cases are isolated at home and employees exposed follow quarantine orders,” Quaranta said.

She said that while the Delta variant has not been detected in this report, “we could see Delta and other variants reported in our communities in the future.”

Quaranta said that because viruses constantly change through mutation, new variants of a virus are expected to occur, and sometimes they will persist and other time emerge and disappear. Multiple variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 have been documented in the United States and globally during this pandemic.

“Let’s focus any fears into action. Continue to share public health messaging about the ways to protect yourself. Continue to use good health hygiene practices and of course – stay home when you are not feeling well,” she said.

With the vaccination rate in Gulf at 39 percent, nearly 20 percentage points lower than the state’s 58 percent rate, and Franklin not much better at 42 percent, the county health department is encouraging those who have not been inoculated to do so.

“Unfortunately, the vaccination rate in many of our rural counties is below the state percentage, but we continue to work with our healthcare partners to make vaccinations as accessible as possible. Simply call us today and we will get your right in!” said Quaranta.

“They are still available to you at no cost. Our healthcare partners have made COVID-19 vaccinations as accessible as possible. Talk to your healthcare provider about COVID-19 vaccinations or call us today with any questions you may have,” she said.

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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