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Covid-19 cases soar here since Thanksgiving

STORY BY LISA ZAHNER (Week of January 18, 2024)

The number of people testing positive for COVID-19 each week has tripled here since Thanksgiving, and the area’s oldest residents make up 43 percent of those getting sick enough to seek medical attention.

Thanksgiving week, only 42 positive cases, an average of six per day, were reported to the Florida Department of Health from Indian River County. The week after Thanksgiving that number decreased sightly to 39 cases. Then in December the numbers began to creep up.

Of the 129 new cases reported for the week ending Jan. 11, a total of 56 cases were people age 65 and older. Looking at the 50-plus age group, that number increases to 80 cases out of 129.

Part of the reason for this is likely the use of at-home test kits by people with mild cases of COVID-19 illness who do not seek medical treatment – those case numbers are not captured in the state statistics. So naturally, older residents would be more inclined to seek out the Paxlovid treatment to head off severe disease and prevent hospitalization than younger people with no underlying chronic health issues.

Seven deaths attributed to complications of COVID-19 illness were reported countywide since Dec. 29 – four deaths among patients age 65 and older, two deaths in patients age 60 to 65, and one death in a patient in the 30 to 39 age range.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hospitalizations rose 34 percent last week over the previous week in the CDC disease-reporting region of Indian River and Brevard counties.

Only 35 percent of Indian River County seniors age 65 and older have opted to get the latest bivalent booster vaccine shot designed to protect against the rapidly evolving Omicron subvariants circulating around the world.