Also: Health department will offer Pfizer booster shots starting Oct. 4.
COVID-19 case rates in Flagler County continue to drop as the community pushes past the fourth wave of the pandemic. Still, numbers remain higher than they were during previous waves.
"Things are certainly getting better," Florida Department of Health in Flagler County Health Officer Bob Snyder said on Flagler Broadcasting's "Free For All Friday" program on Oct. 1. "Total cases this week were 141, which was quite a decrease from last week, where we had 215 cases."
This has been the fifth week in a row that the county has reported a decrease. The county had 22 COVID-19-related hospitalizations as of Sept. 30.
"Keep in mind that we thought that was a pretty high number toward the end of the third surge from COVID," Snyder said. "But it’s coming down from those high 90s that we experienced just a few weeks ago."
So far, 120 school staff members have tested positive with COVID-19, as have 1,086 students, but the weekly positive case numbers are decreasing, Snyder said.
"This is not over yet with the delta, but it certainly is trending in the right direction, going the right way," he said.
The department did recently uncover some unfortunate news: 11 Flagler County children have been hospitalized with COVID-19, a number higher than the handful of cases the department knew about previously. (Flagler County's pediatric cases are treated at out-of-county hospitals, since AdventHealth Palm Coast doesn't have a pediatric facility.)
Of the roughly 1 million people under 18 who were diagnosed with COVID-19 nationwide in August, Florida Department of Health in Flagler County Medical Director Dr. Stephen Bickel said, about 30,000 were hospitalized.
"Their rates are way below adults … but 30,000 is a lot of kids in the hospital," Bickel said.
Last year, he added, approximately 500 children died from COVID-19.
"This is still an issue," he said. "Fortunately, things are getting a lot better."
Vaccinations in Flagler County have increased recently, with 71,737 Flagler County residents — 70% of the eligible population — now vaccinated, Snyder said.
Bickel said that the delta variant seems to have shaken some people into getting vaccinated.
"We have this caricature of people being strong, ideologically-driven anti-vaxxers, but that’s really a relatively small group that’s very vocal," Bickel said. "Lots of people have been on the fence for a variety of reasons, and part of it is younger people not sure they’re that much at risk. So the delta got a lot of attention from these people."
"This is not over yet with the delta, but it certainly is trending in the right direction, going the right way."
— BOB SNYDER, health officer, Florida Department of Health in Flagler County
Pfizer booster shots are now available for people who are over 65 or have health conditions that place them at high risk for COVID-19. They will be offered at the health department's vaccination sites starting Oct. 4.
People who'd like to get them should do so at least six months after their second shot of the Pfizer vaccine. (Moderna and Johnson & Johnson boosters will be offered once they're approved.)
"Things look a lot better; we still could have another wave in the winter," Bickel said. "I encourage people to get boosters if they’re eligible."