After Florida spring break, coronavirus cases appear to surge in young Floridians
Only a week or two after widely shared videos showed crowds of teens and twentysomethings partying on South Florida's beaches, health officials are finding a surge of coronavirus infections in younger people.
Half of COVID-19 cases dated March 1 were found in people 39 or younger, but that median age has since dropped to 35.
COVID cases in Florida
Florida remains the nation's hot spot for the more infectious mutations of the viral pathogen, federal data shows. Health care workers have found 1,075 as of Friday — 1,042 of which are the so-called British strain — according to the latest data available from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And that is an undercount, as many such cases go unreported because they go untested.
The state health department does not publish up-to-date information on how many variants have been found across Florida.
But data shared March 17 showed that 36% of mutations were found in Broward County, another 15% in Miami-Dade and 9% in Palm Beach County.
Florida health officials logged 2,039,062 COVID-19 cases as of Saturday, a 5,883-person increase from the day prior.
Post-spring break COVID cases
It's the fifth straight day the state has documented more than 5,000 new infections as cases rise post-spring break.
Palm Beach County logged 130,358 infections as of Saturday, a 454-person increase from Friday.
Florida's death toll stood Saturday at 33,783, a 27-person increase from Friday, and in Palm Beach County, 2,687, unchanged from the previous day.
Nationally, more than 30.2 million people have been infected with the coronavirus since the beginning of the pandemic, and more than 548,000 people have died, according to Johns Hopkins University's coronavirus tracker.
Tests show the virus continues to surge in Florida, with 6.3% of 90,742 newly released tests coming back positive statewide, along with 6.6% of 6,609 in Palm Beach County, a report published Saturday by the state health department shows.
An average of 5.9% of tests over the past two weeks have come back positive, above the 5% recommended by health experts, who say the positivity rate should remain below that level before the virus can be considered under control.
State health reports show that has not happened since October.
While partygoers threaten to spark another wave of infections statewide, vaccines continue to make their way into people's arms.
Health care workers have injected 2,865,665 people with the Moderna and Pfizer booster shots, and 209,668 with the Johnson & Johnson formula, fully inoculating 3,075,333, with 2,528,950 more people awaiting their second dose of the two-shot vaccine.
About 13.7% of Florida's nearly 21.5 million residents have been fully immunized, while another 12% have yet to receive their booster shots.
People as young as 40 will become eligible to be vaccinated starting Monday, Gov. Ron DeSantis has ordered, and everyone 18 and older will be able to get shots starting April 5.
The Palm Beach County Health District replaced its old vaccine scheduling website Saturday with a new one at vaccine.hcdpbc.org, meant to be easier to use and faster.
Vaccine hopefuls can schedule an appointment at the South Florida Fairgrounds, the South County Civic Center on 16700 Jog Road west of Delray Beach, or the Burns Road Community Center on 4404 Burns Road in Palm Beach Gardens.