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COVID-19 wave affecting younger, unvaccinated people most

Anyone aged 12 and older is eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine — the best way to limit the spread of the virus.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Surging COVID-19 case numbers primarily are among the younger populations — the same people with lower vaccination rates, according to state data.

On Friday, the Florida Department of Health reported 73,199 new cases overall for the week of July 16-22. The percent positivity of new cases climbed to a new months-long high of 15.1 percent.

A "too high" percent positivity threshold is about 5 percent, according to Johns Hopkins, meaning there's likely a lot of virus spreading throughout the state.

The data validates many health officials' fears as the more highly transmissible delta variant takes over as the predominant variant. Dr. Michael Teng with USF Public Health pointed out that there's a correlation between where COVID-19 cases are being reported and the rate of vaccinations.

According to the Department of Health, about 35 percent of people in the 12-19 age group are vaccinated. There were 7,346 cases reported this past week among that group, with an 18.8 percent positivity. 

Here's the breakdown:

  • Aged 12-19: 7,346 cases (18.8% positivity) - 35% vaccinated
  • Aged 20-29: 13,961 cases (19.8% positivity) - 39% vaccinated
  • Aged 30-39: 14,189 cases (17.8% positivity) - 47% vaccinated
  • Aged 40-49: 11,038 cases (15.4% positivity) - 57% vaccinated
  • Aged 50-59: 9,341 cases (13.7% positivity) - 66% vaccinated
  • Aged 60-64: 3,332 cases (11.6% positivity) - 75% vaccinated
  • Aged 65+: 6,687 cases (8.6% positivity) - 84% vaccinated

"This is now becoming an issue. We're seeing a lot of what I would think is preventable, severe illness," said Dr. Jason Salemi with USF Public Health.

People 12 and older are eligible to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, while the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are authorized for people 18 up. All have been found to be effective against COVID-19, with a recent study finding two doses of the Pfizer vaccine offering 88-percent protection against infection caused by the delta variant.

Visit the Florida Department of Health's website to find a vaccine location near you.

A surge in cases typically corresponds with additional hospitalizations, which Florida is seeing right now. Although the state no longer breaks out hospitalization rates in its reports, there are 4,501 hospitalizations with a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

It's a 54.9-percent increase over the week prior, CDC data shows.

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