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Florida has some work to do on COVID | Editorial
Covid cases are stubbornly high, and the state lags behind many others in rolling out vaccinations.
Leanne Montenegro, 21, covers her eyes as she doesn't like the sight of needles, while she receives the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at a FEMA vaccination center at Miami Dade College on Monday.
Leanne Montenegro, 21, covers her eyes as she doesn't like the sight of needles, while she receives the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at a FEMA vaccination center at Miami Dade College on Monday. [ LYNNE SLADKY | AP ]
This article represents the opinion of the Tampa Bay Times Editorial Board.
Published Apr. 7
Updated Apr. 7

Florida opened vaccinations to anyone 16 years old and up on Monday. Early indications suggest the system has done a good job of absorbing the influx of newly eligible vaccine seekers. That’s good — the more people who get vaccinated the faster the state can contain the virus.

And Florida has some work to do. The state is one of 18 where new case counts rose both of the last two weeks. Of eight southeastern states, only Florida and North Carolina have new case counts trending upward this week.

The state also lags many others in rolling out the vaccines and in keeping COVID cases and deaths in check in recent weeks. The virus — and its variants — threaten to drive the numbers back up in coming weeks, or at least keep them from falling to safer levels, according to projections based on the state’s current numbers.

So as nearly anyone who wants a vaccine is now eligible for one, here’s a glance at where Florida stands in the ongoing fight against COVID.

Cases and deaths

171 cases a day on average over the last week per 100,000 residents*. Thirteenth highest among the states, and above the national average of 133. Highest: Michigan at 452

2.3 deaths a day on average over the last week per 100,000 residents*. Seventh highest among the states. Highest: West Virginia 3.4

COVID positivity rates

9.4 percent.* Ninth highest in the country. Highest: Idaho at 29 percent

Vaccinations

31 percent of the population with at least one vaccine dose, 37th among the states. Best: New Hampshire 42 percent

17.3 percent fully vaccinated, 40th among the states and one of only 14 states below the national average. Best: Alaska at 25 percent

Florida also has a so-so record when compared to the nation’s two other most-populated states, California and Texas.

And many of the COVID models predict that case levels in Florida will remain stubbornly stagnant for much of April. The death rate will drop, thanks in part to more vaccinated residents, but total deaths will still approach 35,000 in coming weeks.

[ CDC ]
[ CDC ]

*Based on a 7-day rolling average ending April 5. Sources: Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, CDC, Becker’s Hospital Review

Editorials are the institutional voice of the Tampa Bay Times. The members of the Editorial Board are Editor of Editorials Graham Brink, Sherri Day, Sebastian Dortch, John Hill, Jim Verhulst and Chairman and CEO Paul Tash. Follow @TBTimes_Opinion on Twitter for more opinion news.