Sizable decline in new COVID infections here

Cleveland Clinic Vero Beach

The latest omicron BA.5 subvariant wave finally appears to be receding here. New COVID-19 infections reported to the Florida Department of Health declined 28 percent last week to 351 cases, marking the first meaningful shift in the weekly case count all summer.

Since the average number of positive cases rose from 50 per day to 65 per day in early June, reported cases have held steady between 450 and 500 cases per week the entire summer travel season when students were out of school.

Despite the downturn in new infections last week, Indian River County remains in the high COVID Community Level and community transition categories, along with almost all of Florida.

Statewide figures for new infections echoed the local downturn last week, as did nationwide reports. Most Florida counties saw a marked decline in newly reported cases though this number does not include people who tested positive via at-home test kits and did not seek medical care.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration released updated guidance on do-it-yourself testing, recommending that people who test negative should re-test to reduce false negatives.

“At-home COVID-19 antigen tests are less likely to detect the SARS-CoV-2 virus than molecular tests, such as polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests. This is especially true early in an infection or in people who do not have COVID-19 symptoms,” the FDA said on Friday.

People with COVID-19 symptoms who test negative on an at-home test should re-test up to 48 hours later, and if the test is still negative but symptoms persist, they should call their health provider or seek a molecular-based or PCR test.

People with a known or suspected exposure to a COVID-positive person but no symptoms should test repeatedly, 48 hours apart, to rule out false negative tests. The FDA suggests a total of three tests to improve accuracy.

Barrier island residents who have not received all the free at-home tests kits they are entitled to can go to to enter their mailing address and order more free tests from the federal government.

Meanwhile, new hospitalizations for COVID-19 illness have also decreased somewhat in Florida recently, with the number of deaths reported statewide being slightly up or down each week, ranging from the mid 70s to the upper 90s for all 67 of Florida’s counties.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 16 new hospitalizations for Indian River County last week, a 23 percent decline from the previous week’s number.

Cleveland Clinic Indian River Hospital spokesperson Arlene Allen-Mitchell said on Monday that the hospital “has a total of 14 patients with COVID, none of which are in critical care.”

That’s down from 15 patients hospitalized the previous week.

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