COVID CASES RISING BUT HOSPITALIZATIONS LOW IN THE KEYS

Despite more positive COVID cases, hospitals say they’re not seeing admissions for care. PIXABAY/Contributed

COVID-19 cases are ticking upward in Monroe County, but they aren’t leading to serious illness and the need for hospitalization among the infected.

The Florida Health Department report that’s now released every two weeks reported 91 COVID-19 cases in Monroe County between April 15 and April 21. In that span, Florida reported 20,860 COVID cases.

A new case positivity rate of 8.1% in the Keys is above the state’s 6.1% average. But hospitals aren’t reporting seeing increased patients who are in need of inpatient care. Lower Keys Medical Center reported one COVID positive patient receiving treatment as of May 2. LKMC spokeswoman Lynn Corbett-Winn said the facility hasn’t seen a significant rise in COVID hospitalizations in the past month. 

Baptist Health South Florida’s hospitals in the Keys reported no patients receiving treatment at Mariners or Fishermen’s hospitals as of May 2. While the health department in Monroe County is watching the situation closely, Bob Eadie, health officer for Monroe County, said the recent COVID-19 wave isn’t causing any major concerns. Those who are vaccinated and come down with COVID are experiencing cold symptoms for a brief period before they begin to recover.

“It’s not unexpected or unusual to see the epidemic evolve and the virus evolve. But it doesn’t seem to cause serious illness, and that’s a relief as far as that goes,” he said. 

Sore throat, cough, congestion and fever are among the symptoms appearing upon exposure to the virus. Symptoms may appear two to 14 days after the exposure. 

Like influenza and the cold, Eadie said, experts are now saying that people will live in a world with COVID. In the northern states, waves will likely be seen during the colder months. In states like Florida, waves could be seen during the warmer months.

“During colder months, you have people inside and closer together as opposed to warmer months. That would drive spikes,” he said. “With the presumption of travel, you have people coming from so many different areas of the country to the Keys. You have a constant change of people and that increases exposure to the virus. 

“We’ve learned to live with the cold and influenza. There’s no reason we can’t figure out how to live with this,” he continued.

Eadie added that vaccines remain effective against the virus and the various strains. Those who are inoculated and still come down with COVID only see mild symptoms. He also urges using common sense, like staying home if sick and staying away from big crowds. 

A total of 61,386, or 84% of the population, in Monroe County have received a vaccine. That’s tied for second best in Florida with Broward County. 

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Jim McCarthy is a northerner who escaped the snow and frigid temperatures for warm living by the water. A former crime & court reporter and city editor for two Western New York newspapers, Jim has been honing his craft since his graduation from St. Bonaventure University in 2014. In his 3 years in the Keys, Jim has enjoyed connecting with the community. “One of my college professors would always preach to be curious,” he said. “Behind every person is a story that’s unique to them, and one worth telling. Behind every community is resiliency and resolve in difficult times. As writers, we are the ones who paint the pictures in the readers minds of the emotions, the struggles and the triumphs.” Jim serves as President of the Key Largo Sunset Rotary Club, which is composed of energetic members who serve the community’s youth and older populations. “It’s a group that lives by the motto ‘Service Above Self,’” he says. “We’ve done service projects at the Tavernier nursing home, sitting down and socializing with residents. “We’ve also supplied cameras to young students exploring the Keys ecosystem.” Jim loves sports, family and time exploring underneath the water depths.