| Northwell Health

At a time when more Floridians are becoming eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations, recent reports from the Florida Department show an uptick in new infections in Polk County.

Florida residents 40 and older became eligible for vaccine doses on Monday. And the pool of those who can be vaccinated greatly expands next week. Starting next Monday, all Floridians 18 and older will be eligible for the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. In addition, 16- and 17-year-olds will be able to get the Pfizer vaccine starting next Monday.

So far, 153,372 Polk residents have received vaccinations, according to the Florida Department of Health. That represents 21.87% of the county’s estimated population of people age 16 and older.

Roughly 57% of Polk residents who have been vaccinated are age 65 or older.

Despite the increasing vaccinations, local health officials say they are seeing an uptick in new COVID-19 infections.

The rate of new infections in Polk jumped 21% last week over the previous week from 843 to 1,018, The Ledger reported today. The statewide increase in the same period was 13%, according to USA Today.

The rate of new infections in Polk during the past month has dropped well below the holiday peak in December and January, but is still above the levels seen during the fall lull between the summer and winter outbreaks.

It’s will be several weeks before the data shows the effects of Spring Break and family gatherings for Easter and Passover, Lakeland Regional Health’s infectious disease expert, Dr. Daniel Haight, told The Ledger.

Haight also told WFLA the decline in hospital admissions hasn’t been as sharp as he expected. Lakeland Regional currently has 55 COVID-19 patients, down from more than 100 a few months ago. But fewer patients need ventilators, due in part to new preventative treatments available, he said.

Places to register to receive vaccines include:

In addition, a federal walk-up vaccination site in Tampa is open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily through May 26 at the greyhound track, 755 E. Waters Ave.

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Barry Friedman founded Lkldnow.com in 2015 as the culmination of a career in print and digital journalism. Since 1982, he has used the tools of reporting, editing and content curation to help people in Lakeland understand their community better.

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