Florida Government News for December 2020

This month’s post focuses solely on news about the coronavirus because there is just so much to report.

Almost 1.3 million cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Florida through December 28, which is about six percent of the state population. Five percent of the Florida resident cases (62,142) resulted in hospitalizations and two percent (21,409) resulted in deaths, according to the report. In the last two weeks:

Downloaded from https://floridahealthcovid19.gov on 12/30/20

State health officials say the positivity rate spike to 22.75 percent on 12/28 is likely the result of fewer people getting tested during the Christmas holidays and delays in result processing and reporting.

Despite these numbers:

Distributing the Vaccine

According to the Executive Order governing the first phase of vaccine administration, only residents and staff of long-term care facilities, persons 65 and older, and health care personnel with direct patient contact may receive the vaccine. Hospital providers may also vaccinate persons they deem to be extremely vulnerable to COVID-19.

In a departure from CDC guidelines, “We are not going to put young, healthy workers ahead of our elderly vulnerable population,” DeSantis said. “Frontline essential workers,” including fire fighters, police, and those in education, will have to wait.

Florida expected an initial distribution of 546,400 doses of the vaccine:

Pfizer Vaccine: 179,400 doses were to be distributed as: 97,500 doses to five Florida hospitals to vaccinate “high-contact and high-exposure” healthcare workers; 60,450 doses to CVS and Walgreens for use in long-term care facilities; and 21,450 doses to the Florida Department of Health for use in areas with a “high concentration of long-term care facilities.” Gov. DeSantis Press Release, 12/10/20

Moderna Vaccine: 367,000 doses were to be allocated to 173 hospitals in 43 counties that did not participate in the initial allocation of Pfizer vaccine. Gov. DeSantis Press Release, 12/16/20

By comparison, 146,160 people have been vaccinated through December 28, according to the latest Florida Department of Health COVID-19 vaccine summary. That’s a number equal to 27 percent of the number of doses. Of those vaccinated, 18 percent were age 65 or older, 60 percent were women, and 56 percent were white, presumably reflecting the healthcare-worker priority.

Downloaded from https://www.floridadisaster.org/covid19/vaccine-report/ on 12/30/20

The demographics of those vaccinated and the distribution by county are among the data in the summary report.

BREAKING NEWS: The Collier County Health Department has received its first doses of the vaccine and the County will continue to receive the vaccine in the following weeks.

But as of now, no appointment times are available, according to the Health Department website.

State Information Sources

Can We Trust the Data?

Since the start of the pandemic, as we have reported monthly, questions have been raised about the accuracy of the pandemic-related data being reported by the state. This month:

Data Scientist’s Home Raided by FDLE

Rebekah Jones
Rebekah Jones

“The story of how a Florida data scientist responsible for managing the state’s coronavirus numbers wound up with state police agents brandishing guns in her house this month began seven months ago, when Rebekah Jones was removed from her post at the Florida Department of Health,” wrote Patricia Mazzei in a sweeping piece in the NYTimes, 12/13/20.

Effects on Workers and the Economy

Over 5 million state jobless claims have been filed since the coronavirus outbreak began in March, at a cost to the state of $3.8 billion. Federal pandemic relief paid jobless Floridians an additional $15.9 billion as of 12/28/20, according to the FDOE Claims Dashboard.

In the Schools

For the second semester, which begins in January, school districts will continue to receive full funding for online instruction but must also continue to offer in-person classes, under the Florida Department of Education’s November 30th Emergency Order.

In Nursing Homes and Prisons

From the Attorney General

From the Chief Financial Officer

From the Commissioner of Agriculture

From Florida’s U.S. Senators

That’s it for our December state news update. Stay safe!

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