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Florida adds 298,455 COVID cases, 162 deaths in past week

The omicron variant is driving a record surge as infections jump 138 percent in one week.
Florida's weekly coronavirus numbers.
Florida's weekly coronavirus numbers. [ Photo illustration by ASHLEY DYE and KINFAY MOROTI | Times ] ]
Published Jan. 1|Updated Jan. 1

Florida reported 298,455 coronavirus cases over the seven-day period from Dec. 24-30, an average of about 42,600 infections per day. That’s a 138 percent increase in weekly infections from the previous report.

The seven-day average of omicron variant infections far exceeds the 25,000 daily average the delta wave hit this past summer. Florida’s first omicron case was detected on Dec. 6, and the speed of viral spread is unprecedented.

The latest tally brings the total number of COVID-19 cases up to 4,166,392 since the pandemic’s first two cases in Florida were reported 22 months ago on March 1, 2020.

Related: Florida hits record 42,600 COVID infections a day as omicron rages

The state added 162 deaths since the previous report. This brings the total statewide number of pandemic deaths to 62,504.

Most of these occurred more than a week ago and were recorded by the state in the past seven days. It can take officials two weeks or more to confirm COVID-related deaths, and the holidays may delay reporting.

The Florida Department of Health announced in June that it would no longer release daily COVID-19 data. Instead, it now releases one report every Friday — but it continues to withhold information that previously was publicly available.

As of June 4, the state no longer reports non-resident vaccinations, coronavirus cases and fatalities. The state has repeatedly declined requests to provide non-resident data to the Tampa Bay Times.

Despite repeated requests from the Times, the state does not report the number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths by vaccination status.

Related: Where to get a COVID test in Tampa Bay

VACCINATIONS: Florida administered 81,503 first doses in the past week, a drop of 30,487 doses from the week before. A total of 48,131 people got their second dose, a decline of 15,903 over the holidays. Nearly 6 million Floridians ages 5 and up remain unvaccinated.

Vaccinations for children ages 5-11 numbered 18,230 in the past week. In all, 15 percent of children in the 5-11 age group have had their first vaccine shot.

As of Thursday, 71 percent of Florida residents ages 5 and up have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine, according to the state.

Still, 32 percent of Florida’s total population remains unvaccinated, including children 4 and under who are not yet eligible to receive the vaccine. That is the next age group that may obtain approval in the coming weeks.

Vaccination rates are highest among Florida’s older adults. About 91 percent of those age 65 and up have been vaccinated, and 89 percent of those ages 60-64 are vaccinated.

Children and young adults remain the least-vaccinated age groups. In Florida, ages 5 to 11 are 15 percent vaccinated, 12 to 19 are 58 percent vaccinated, ages 20 to 29 are 60 percent vaccinated and ages 30 to 39 are 69 percent vaccinated.

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In Pinellas and Manatee counties, 67 percent of eligible residents 5 and up have been vaccinated; in Hillsborough, 66 percent; in Pasco, 65 percent; in Polk, 64 percent; in Hernando, 61 percent; and in Citrus, 60 percent.

Related: 5 crucial Florida COVID stories of 2021, and what’s ahead in 2022

BOOSTER SHOTS: Florida administered 197,094 booster doses, down 133,490 shots from the prior week. Booster shots are available to all residents age 16 and over who received either their first dose of the J&J vaccine two months ago or their second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine at least six months ago.

POSITIVITY: Florida’s positivity rate increased to 26.5 percent in the past week, nearly double the rate of 13.8 percent the week before. Positivity rates were highest among young adults, with those age 20-29 testing positive 33.4 percent of the time. Positivity was at 30.9 percent for those age 30-39 and 29.1 percent for those age 12-19.

According to the World Health Organization, states should maintain a positivity rate of 5 percent or less for at least two weeks before fully reopening. A positivity rate of 5 percent or less indicates testing is widespread enough to capture mild, asymptomatic and negative cases.

Positivity rates around the Tampa Bay area were 26.1 percent in Polk, 26 percent in Hillsborough, 20.8 percent in Pasco, 19.5 percent in Pinellas, 19.3 percent in Hernando, 18.2 percent in Manatee and 8.8 percent in Citrus.

Related: Why won’t Florida, CDC release state’s breakthrough COVID data?

HOSPITALIZATIONS: Florida had 4,485 confirmed COVID-19 patients in hospitals as of Friday, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

The Tampa Bay area saw 489 COVID-19-related hospital admissions from Dec. 19-26, the latest data available, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Hillsborough County hospitals had 220 admissions, Pinellas had 126; Pasco, 48; Manatee, 10; Polk, 66; Hernando, 8; and Citrus, 11.

LOCAL NUMBERS: Tampa Bay added 31,840 cases in the past week, bringing the area total up to 755,906 cases.

As of Thursday’s count, Hillsborough added 15,027 new cases, Pinellas had 6,615; Pasco, 3,372; Manatee, 2,805; Polk, 3,303; Hernando, 613; and Citrus, 105.

The CDC reported that the Tampa Bay area counted 18 deaths from Dec. 19-26: Hillsborough and Pinellas saw 5; Polk, 3; Manatee, 2; and Pasco, Hernando and Citrus 1 each.

• • •

How to get tested

Tampa Bay: The Times can help you find the free, public COVID-19 testing sites in Citrus, Hernando, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk and Sarasota counties.

Florida: The Department of Health has a website that lists testing sites in the state. Some information may be out of date.

The U.S.: The Department of Health and Human Services has a website that can help you find a testing site.

• • •

How to get vaccinated

The COVID-19 vaccine for ages 5 and up and booster shots for everyone ages 16 and up are being administered at doctors’ offices, clinics, pharmacies, grocery stores and public vaccination sites. Many allow appointments to be booked online. Here’s how to find a site near you:

Find a site: Visit vaccines.gov to find vaccination sites in your zip code.

More help: Call the National COVID-19 Vaccination Assistance Hotline.

Phone: 800-232-0233. Help is available in English, Spanish and other languages.

TTY: 888-720-7489

Disability Information and Access Line: Call 888-677-1199 or email DIAL@n4a.org.

• • •

Tampa Bay Times coronavirus coverage

KIDS AND VACCINES: Got questions about vaccinating your kid? Here are some answers.

BOOSTER SHOTS: Confused about which COVID booster to get? This guide will help.

BOOSTER QUESTIONS: Are there side effects? Why do I need it? We’ve got answers.

PROTECTING SENIORS: Here’s how seniors can stay safe from the virus.

COVID AND THE FLU: Get a flu shot and the COVID vaccine to avoid a ‘twindemic.’

GET THE DAYSTARTER MORNING UPDATE: Sign up to receive the most up-to-date information.

A TRIBUTE TO FLORIDIANS TAKEN BY THE CORONAVIRUS: They were parents and retirees, police officers and doctors, imperfect but loved deeply.

HAVE A TIP?: Send us confidential news tips.

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