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County to provide additional 1,800 vaccines

By CJ HADDAD - | Jan 12, 2021


The Florida Department of Health and Lee County govern-ment announced on Tuesday that there is enough vaccine supply to schedule about 1,800 additional appointments Thursday and Friday, Jan. 14 and 15, at the site near Southwest Florida International Airport for seniors and frontline healthcare workers. After that, there will be no FDOH-Lee vaccine supply remaining this week.

According to county officials and based on the first go-round of vaccination appointments, reservation slots are expected to be claimed quickly, likely within minutes. 

To schedule one of the estimated 1,800 available appointments, a toll-free number will open at noon Wednesday, Jan. 13. 

County officials said the state’s vendor, Tidal Basin, has made technological and customer-service upgrades in the past week, which necessitates a new phone number. That new, toll-free number is 866-200-3468. 

“Only people with appointments will be vaccinated at the site this week,” the county release states. “Many of the appointments this week were allocated to those callers who were in the preregistration group from last week. FDOH-Lee is waiting for information on when and how much vaccine will be available next week. More than 9,000 doses are being administered this week.”

Officials said since last week, the Tidal Basin outlined steps to increase call capacity and improve the performance of the reservation system, including: transitioning to a larger call center platform to provide better customer service and avoid dropped calls/busy sig-nals; updating technology to ensure no callbacks get filtered out as spam and adding a more flexible interactive voice response system for quicker call handling; and adding additional live agents to call center operations.

Through last Friday, FDOH-Lee, Lee County and the Lee Health System had administered more than 20,000 shots to frontline medical workers and 65-plus seniors.

FDOH and Lee County said more than 11,000 individuals were vaccinated at the RSW site as of end of day Monday. This total does not include medical workers vaccinated at separate sites by FDOH or vaccinations issued by other entities such as Lee Health.

The release also stated that this week, FDOH-Lee would begin contacting initial individuals who need a second dose to schedule it in advance of their due date. Second doses for first-responders and frontline health-care workers, who were the first to receive the vaccine, would not be due in Lee County before Jan. 18. 

“For the seniors who have received shots at Lee County sites, information will be forthcoming about scheduling the second dose. The state and county are collaborating on efficient ways to handle the number of people who need to be scheduled for second doses,” the release states. 

The state and county have also requested that Tidal Basin stand up a help line or call center for pre-registered people who have questions. Details will be announced when they become available at www.leegov.com/vaccine.

The Lee County Sheriff’s Office also warned the public to be on the lookout for fraudulent schemes regarding the vaccine including:

* Calls asking to pay out of pocket to get the vaccine.

* Calls asking to pay to put your name on a vaccine waiting list or to get early access.

* Advertisements for vaccines through social media platforms, email, telephone calls, online or from unsolicited/unknown sources.

* Marketers offering to sell or ship doses of the vaccine for payment.

* Requests from someone unknown to an individual asking for a social security number, bank account information or credit card information.

Lee County residents who believe they have been the victim of COVID-19 fraud can report it to:

* Lee County Sheriff’s Office fraud line – 258-3292

* HHS-OIG Hotline: 1-800-HHS-TIPS or log on to tips.hhs.gov 

* FBI Hotline: 1-800-CALL-FBI

* CMS/Medicare Hotline: 1-800-MEDICARE


Florida leading nation in 65+ vaccinations

According to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office and publicly available age demographic data, Florida has the highest percentage of vaccine doses administered to seniors 65 and older.

“Florida is putting Seniors First and more than 50 percent of the total vaccinations administered in the state have been for individuals 65 and older, and we continue to accelerate this rate,” said DeSantis in a release Monday. “Last week, Florida vaccinated 223,000 seniors, which was nearly 70 percent of the people vaccinated in week four. We have nearly 4.5 million seniors in the state and prioritizing them for the vaccine is the most effective tool we have to battle the pandemic. Both nationwide and in Florida, seniors 65 and older account for more than 80 percent of all COVID-related deaths. Although the vaccine supply from the federal government remains limited, we are remaining proactive so that when additional supply does come, our infrastructure will be able to process it.”

According to DeSantis’ office, heading into the fifth week of vaccinations state-wide, more than 301,000 individuals age 65 and older have been vaccinated in Florida — more than 50 percent of the total vaccinated in the state. This is an increase of more than 223,000 seniors over the course of one week. Last week, more than 327,000 individuals were vaccinated in Florida, which is more than the total number of persons who were vaccinated in the first three weeks of the vaccine being available.


By the Numbers

As of Tuesday afternoon, there are 1,503,482 total cases of COVID-19 confirmed in Florida, an increase of 14,896 since FDOH’s last update Monday.

Test results reported to the Department of Health on Monday, Jan. 11 resulted in an 10.62% positivity rate among 161,444 tests.

The state saw its highest daily percentage of positive patients on Dec. 29 when 22.75% percent of tests reported were positive among 62,303 tests.

Positivity rates in new cases have topped 10% for 13 consecutive days. Percent positivity rates in new cases have been over 5% since Oct. 29. 

Of those testing positive, 66,204 Florida residents have been hospitalized at some point during their illness according to the state.

The death toll increased by 161 from Monday’s report, bringing the total number of deaths, both resident and non-resident, to 23,585.

According to the state, hospitalizations in Lee County, and statewide in Florida, make up 4% of all positive cases. Deaths statewide and in Lee County stand at 2% of positive cases.

On Dec. 27, 974 people were given the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine throughout the state according to FDOH. The total number vaccinated as of Tuesday throughout Florida was 648,353 with 23,174 being in Lee County. According to the state, 51,234 individuals have received their first and second doses, 76 of those being in Lee County. 

In Lee County, 46,104 individuals (+454) have tested positive as of Tuesday’s update. 

Positive COVID-19 cases in the county have ranged from infants to a 103-year-old. Lee County saw its first two cases on March 7, when a man and a woman, each 77, tested positive. They had traveled to the Dominican Republic.

There have been 715 deaths in Lee County — no increase from Monday’s report.

The Florida Department of Health reported that a 34-year-old woman died from complications of COVID-19 on Jan. 2, the youngest person to die from COVID-19 in Lee County since a 30-year-old Lee County man died in July from the coronavirus.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Lee Health had 192 COVID-19 patients isolated in system inpatient hospitals, including 24 new admissions and 27 discharges since Monday. Lee Health saw 70 new COVID-19 admissions and 79 discharges over the weekend.  

A total of 4,348 patients who had tested positive have been discharged since the beginning of the pandemic.

On Monday, Lee Health had a 27.9% positivity rate on COVID-19 tests processed through Lee Health Labs. This represents Lee Health results only, not Lee County as a whole. Hospital positivity rates tend to be higher as the tests are performed on patients seeking treatment for a health issue, not the general public that includes asymptomatic individuals.

Census as of Tuesday afternoon was at 94% of staffed operational bed capacity, with 14% of those being COVID-19 patients. Staffed operational capacity reflects the number of beds for which the hospital has adequate staffing, not the total number of beds within Lee Health hospitals. Overall bed capacity fluctuates hour to hour as the system discharges patients throughout the day who are ready to go home.

As of Tuesday, 72% of ventilators and 10% of ICU rooms are available for use across Lee Health facilities.

As of Tuesday, there were 13 COVID-19 patients on ventilators and 26 in the intensive care unit.

COVID-19 is a highly contagious viral disease. For most individuals, symptoms are mild. For a minority, the disease becomes a type of viral pneumonia with severe complications. Especially at risk are those who are older, those with underlying health conditions and the immune-compromised.

Officials strongly urge all members of the public who are at risk to remain at home so as to limit exposure. All others are urged to observe social distancing and to wear a mask for all public interactions.

For more detail on Florida resident cases, visit the live DOH Dashboard.

To find the most up-to-date information and guidance on COVID-19, visit the Department of Health’s dedicated COVID-19 webpage. For information and advisories from the Centers for Disease Control, visit the CDC COVID-19 website. For more information about current travel advisories issued by the U.S. Department of State, visit the travel advisory website.

For any other questions related to COVID-19 in Florida, contact the Department’s dedicated COVID-19 Call Center by calling 1-866-779-6121. The Call Center is available 24 hours per day. Inquiries may also be emailed to COVID-19@flhealth.gov.


— Connect with this reporter on Twitter: @haddad_cj