TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — As the U.S. moves past COVID-19, data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows America is moving in the right direction. Community infection levels are now considered low in most of the country and transmission levels have fallen to moderate.
In Florida, almost the entire state’s transmission levels for COVID-19 dropped to moderate, meaning only 10 to 49 cases per 100,000 people have been reported in the past week. While most of Florida is moderate, a few counties have low transmission, meaning fewer than 10 cases have been reported in the past seven days. There are also a few are showing “substantial” to “high” transmission, meaning 50 or more cases reported in a week’s time.
Of the Sunshine State’s 67 counties, seven are seeing low transmission and seven still have moderate transmission levels. Only Desoto County has a high transmission level, according to data from the CDC. In Tampa Bay, the 10-county area is nearly all in the moderate zone, with the exception of Manatee County, which is showing substantial COVID-19 transmission levels.
Despite varying levels of transmission, all of the Tampa Bay area counties have low levels of COVID-19 cases, according to CDC data. None of the state has high levels of infection, and only 10 counties have a medium level of cases.
Still, testing efforts have slowed in recent weeks. The testing sites operated in the City of Tampa have closed. Every state in the U.S. has ended their indoor mask mandates, with Hawaii the last state to do so. Hillsborough County has also ended its COVID-19 emergency order.
As multiple states adjust their COVID-19 policies, and some actively push back against vaccination for healthy patients, current state rules appear to put the pandemic largely behind us, as things return to normal.
Despite the low levels and return to a more normal day-to-day, the CDC’s recent reports on the pandemic still urges testing to continue, with the onset of the BA.2 variant of COVID-19, “stealth omicron” now the dominant version of the virus. In the meantime, at-home test kit rollout continues, and the CDC reported an increased demand for the at-home rapid tests.
The Florida Department of Health recently switched to a bi-weekly COVID-19 data report, the first of which came out Friday. In the report, containing a week’s worth of new numbers from March 18-24, new statewide totals for COVID-19 cases showed a 16,741 case increase compared to the report from the week of March 4-10. The new statewide case total was recorded at 5,841,469 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.
In a similar fashion, the vaccination totals for those who have received any or all of their COVID-19 vaccine doses and boosters grew from 15,430,167 to 15,452,648, a 22,481 increase.
The number of recorded deaths also rose. As of March 24, 73,027 Florida residents were confirmed to have died from COVID-19, a 1,167 increase from the previously recorded total by FDOH. The state’s overall case positivity dropped to 26.3%.