Polk County reported 2,514 new COVID-19 infections last week, five times the number reported for the last week in June and the fourth-highest weekly level since the state Department of Health started counting cases 16 months ago.

The last time this many new cases were reported in Polk County was the last week of January, as levels receded from record high numbers following the winter holidays.

The proportion of tests that come back positive also reached a high not seen for months, according to the latest weekly update from the Florida Department of Health.

View the full state report here or at the end of this article.

Polk’s positivity rate last week was 18.6%, compared with a statewide rate of 15.1%. The only times Polk experienced a higher positivity rate were six times during the virus’ surge last summer and once during the winter holiday surge.

Also from the state update for July 19-23:

  • The 316,372 people in Polk County who have received at least one dose of vaccine represents 51% of the eligible population of teens and adults 12 or older, compared with a statewide proportion of 60%.
  • Last week, 4,340 people in Polk received vaccines, 26.5% more than the previous week.
  • Polk reported 349.3 new cases per 100,000 residents last week, a bit higher than the state average of 333.1.

Joy Jackson, director of the Florida Department of Health in Polk County, listed several factors for the recent spread of the virus when contacted by The Ledger:

  • Fourth of July gatherings
  • School being out
  • Fewer people wearing masks
  • Presence of the more-contagious delta variant
  • A still-large number of people who have not received a vaccine.

Only 3% of newy diagnosed cases are from people who have been vaccinated, said Jackson, who estimated that 95% of those hospitalized with the disease have not been vaccinated and that most of them are between the ages of 25 and 49.

“We have to get people understanding we’re back in it,” she said.

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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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