We’re not out of the woods yet, by no means, but the rays of sunlight are beginning to flicker from the beyond the trees.
Franklin and Gulf county health officials are seeing a welcome flood of vaccinations, with nearly 2,000 complete regimens of the two-dose Moderna vaccine so far complete.
Gulf County has had, as of Tuesday morning, 1,949 dose series completed, just ahead of Franklin’s 1,842.
When those who have received first doses are factored in, Gulf has 2,645 residents who have gotten their first shot, and Franklin County 2,443.
Most of those receiving the vaccine have been over age 65, but as the rules are being relaxed, and a broader swath is being targeted, recipients now range in age from 16 to 64.
Of course, the COVID-19 coronavirus has not exited either county, but hospitalizations and deaths appear to have stabilized as distancing measures and mask-wearing still continues.
In Gulf, the harder hit of the two counties, as of Tuesday morning, 1,880 people, very few of them non-Florida residents, had tested positive since the pandemic began, and among these 95 hospitalizations and 40 deaths had occurred, three of which are under age 64.
The hospitalization rate, at 5 percent, was slightly higher than the 4 percent statewide, while the death rate was the same, at 2 percent.
In Gulf County there have been so far 130 cases in long-term care facilities, 7 percent, which is higher than the statewide average of 4 percent.
In Franklin, there have been 1,279 cases, 28 hospitalizations and 16 deaths, both half that of the state averages. Also, three of the deaths have been among people under age 64. There has been one hospitalization of a child under age 4.
There have been 76 cases in long-term care facilities in Franklin, an increase in recent weeks that now exceeds the statewide average of 4 percent. The situation in state correctional facilities in the two counties continues to far outpace the state average, with 357 prisoner cases in Franklin and 319 in Gulf, both far ahead of the statewide averages.
The overall healthy outlook for Franklin County prompted Peter Lane Taylor, a contributor to Forbes magazine, to put Apalachicola last month as seventh on his list of 10 places in America “To Travel Right Now And Avoid The Pandemic.”
To make his list, he used more than half a dozen maps and criteria like the CDC COVID Data Tracker, the Harvard-Brown COVID Risk Level Map, and TripAdvisor reviews, including current case counts, population density, average weather, public health guidance, proximity to outdoor activities, and drive times from at least two major American metropolises.
“I also looked at new cases per 100,000 people, seven-day rolling averages, total cases, and total deaths to assess the current coronavirus infection risk relative to historical trends dating back to the beginning of the pandemic,” he wrote.
“All travelers need to assess their own comfort level as well as adhere to local and state public health guidelines,” Lane Taylor wrote.
While Carson City, Nevada topped the list, Apalachicola came in just behind Natchez, Mississippi and Santa Fe, New Mexico.
The situation is likely to continue to improve, since Gulf County was included among 76 retail locations of CVS Health that will soon be administering COVID-19 vaccines.
These additional 76 retail locations are in addition to the 81 stores previously announced by Governor DeSantis, bringing the total number of CVS Health vaccination sites to 157.
“CVS Health is significantly expanding access to the vaccine for seniors and eligible Floridians,” said DeSantis. “I thank them for being such a strong partner in our efforts to ensure that every senior who wants a shot, can get a shot.”
CVS wrote in a news releases that as more supply becomes available the company will expand to more store locations and in more Florida communities.
Individuals wishing to receive a vaccine at a CVS Health location must register in advance at CVS.com or through the CVS Pharmacy app.
People without online access can contact CVS Customer Service: [(800) 746-7287]. Walk-in vaccinations without an appointment will not be provided.
This article originally appeared on The Apalachicola Times: Vaccinations step up, CVS soon to feature them