DeSantis vows to lower COVID-19 vaccine age as 20 more local residents succumb to virus

On the day Gov. Ron DeSantis promised to drop the eligibility age for COVID-19 vaccinations and the virus reared its head at The Villages Charter School again, 20 more local residents succumbed to the fast-spreading illness.

Seventeen of the local fatalities occurred in Marion County – where DeSantis was speaking Friday – and the other three were in Lake County. They are among the 1,664 tri-county area deaths, the 32,093 in Florida and the 521,290 across the country.

The governor held a press conference Friday at On Top of the World, where 3,300 Pfizer vaccines are being administered. He said Marion County was identified as needing extra vaccine because just 44 percent of the nearly 110,000 seniors ages 65 and older have been vaccinated. The average among most Florida counties is between 50-60 percent.

DeSantis also said the age for Coronavirus vaccine eligibility will be lowered to either 60 or 55 sometime this month. He said the decision will depend on vaccine supply and when the age is lowered, anyone in the age group regardless of occupation will be eligible for the shots.

Meanwhile, COVID-19 has hit The Villages Charter School again – just one day after a classroom of students were sent home to quarantine after being potentially exposed to the virus. On Friday, two more positive results were reported among students at the facility that largely educates children of the Developer’s family, Villages employees and those who work in various businesses in the sprawling retirement community.

Friday’s new cases bring total number of cases at the school to 80 since classes started in August 2020. That number also represents 44.7 percent of the total cases in all Sumter County schools.

All told, Florida is reporting 1,936,207 cases – an increase of 5,975 from Thursday to Friday. Of those, 1,900,598 are residents. A total of 81,532 COVID-19 cases have been reported in long-term care centers and 31,071 in correctional facilities. Across the state, 80,632 people have been hospitalized.

Locally, 40 new COVID-19 cases were reported Friday in and around The Villages. Those include:

  • The Villages (Sumter, Lake and Marion counties) up 13 for a total of 4,219;
  • Lady Lake up 10 for a total of 1,493;
  • Belleview up 7 for a total of 1,208;
  • Wildwood up 3 for a total of 955;
  • Summerfield up 2 for a total of 1,746;
  • Fruitland Park up 2 for a total of 681;
  • Leesburg up 2 for a total of 3,859; and
  • Oxford up 1 for a total of 462.

Below is a breakdown of other COVID-19 activity in the local area:

TRI-COUNTY AREA

  • Cases: 61,114 – increase of 182
  • Deaths: 1,664
  • Hospitalizations: 3,608

SUMTER COUNTY

  • Cases: 8,147 – increase of 22
  • Deaths: 243
  • Hospitalizations: 511
  • Areas/cities with most cases: The Villages (3,868), Wildwood (955), Bushnell (862), Coleman (830) and Oxford (462).

LAKE COUNTY

  • Cases: 25,010 – increase of 82
  • Deaths: 577
  • Hospitalizations: 1,312
  • Cities with most cases: Clermont (6,553), Leesburg (3,859), Eustis (2,215), Mount Dora (1,888) and Tavares (1,819). The Villages also is reporting 170 cases.

MARION COUNTY

  • Cases: 27,957 – increase of 78
  • Deaths: 844
  • Hospitalizations: 1,785
  • Cities with most cases: Ocala (20,536), Summerfield (1,746), Dunnellon (1,265), Belleview (1,208) and Silver Springs (587). The Villages also is reporting 181 cases.

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