New COVID cases, positivity rates in Okaloosa and Walton continue to drop
New COVID-19 cases in Okaloosa and Walton counties continue to drop, according to data from the Florida Department of Health.
For the entire month, March saw an average of 31 new cases per day in Okaloosa County. That average has dropped to about 14 per day in the past two weeks.
The downward trend also is being experienced in Walton County. An average of about eight new cases were reported per day last month. That has dropped to a little more than five per day in the past two weeks, according to DOH.
In other good COVID-19 news, the long-sought positivity rate of 5% has been achieved in recent weeks in Okaloosa County. The rolling seven-day positivity rate now stands at 3.91%, according to Wednesday data released by the county.
While cases are dropping, due in large part to vaccine distribution, deaths continue to mount in Florida and locally. A total of 849 coronavirus deaths were confirmed in the state last month. Of those deaths, 24 were in Okaloosa and two were in Walton. One death in each county was attributed to a patient at a long-term care facility.
People continue to be vaccinated in both counties.
Okaloosa has 14.38% of its population fully vaccinated as of March 31, while Walton County has 16.35% of its population vaccinated, according to DOH.
While virus positivity rates are dropping, health officials warn that the pandemic has not ended. Last week, Dr. Karen Chapman, director of the Florida Department of Health in Okaloosa County, urged people to continue to take precautions, especially as people flock to local beaches for vacation.
"The question remains open if the downward trend we are seeing now will persist or if Spring Break and the start of summer will see a surge of more cases, especially as the percentage of new cases attributable to the variants becomes greater," she wrote.
Chapman also noted that Okaloosa has no shortage of available vaccines at this time, and that some recent Health Department vaccination clinics have not even filled to capacity. She urged all who are eligible to make an appointment to be vaccinated.