DeSantis eliminates adult age limit for COVID-19 vaccinations

On the day when two more local residents lost their battle with COVID-19, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced that adults 18 and over in the Sunshine State will be eligible for vaccines beginning Monday, April 5.

The governor also announced that beginning this coming Monday, March 29, the eligibility age for the coveted Coronavirus vaccines will drop to 40.

In a video released Thursday, DeSantis touted Florida’s “Seniors First” plan, saying more than 3.2 million people age 65 and older – more than 70 percent of the Sunshine State’s seniors – have received vaccinations.

DeSantis’ announcement came on the same day that President Joe Biden held his first news conference and doubled his original goal of 200 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered during his first 100 days in office. The president’s original goal was 100 million vaccinations given, which was accomplished before his 60th day in office.

News of the expanded age groups for COVID-19 vaccines was welcomed Thursday by the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA).

“From business losses and plummeting consumer confidence to reopening and recovery, FRLA has advocated every single day for policies and practices that would help our restaurants, hotels and suppliers survive this crisis and begin to rebuild,” said Carol Dover, FRLA’s president and CEO. “Opening the vaccines to residents age 18 and older in the coming days is a huge victory for our hospitality industry, not just for our guests, but for our 1.5 million employees.”

Locally, the two latest COVID-19-related fatalities were in Marion County. They are among the 1,747 deaths in the tri-county area, the 33,589 in Florida and the 545,941 across the country.

All told, Florida is reporting 2,027,429 COVID-19 cases – an increase of 5,773 from Wednesday to Thursday. Of those, 1,989,922 are residents. A total of 82,733 COVID-19 cases have been reported in long-term care centers and 31,493 in correctional facilities. Across the state, there have been 33,589 deaths and 84,203 people have been hospitalized.

A total of 42 new COVID-19 cases were reported Thursday in and around The Villages. Those include:

  • The Villages (Sumter, Lake and Marion counties) up 6 for a total of 4,455;
  • Leesburg up 11 for a total of 4,004;
  • Lady Lake up 13 for a total of 1,595;
  • Wildwood up 3 for a total of 998;
  • Oxford up 3 for a total of 498;
  • Summerfield up 3 for a total of 1,797;
  • Belleview up 2 for a total of 1,251; and
  • Fruitland Park up 1 for a total of 731.

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

TRI-COUNTY AREA

  • Cases: 63,752 – increase of 177
  • Deaths: 1,747
  • Hospitalizations: 3,883

SUMTER COUNTY

  • Cases: 8,678 – increase of 34
  • Deaths: 243
  • Hospitalizations: 547
  • Vaccinations: 66,102 (38,726 both doses)
  • Areas/cities with most cases: The Villages (4,097), Wildwood (998), Bushnell (923), Coleman (839) and Oxford (498).

LAKE COUNTY

  • Cases: 26,298 – increase of 99
  • Deaths: 592
  • Hospitalizations: 1,396
  • Vaccinations: 110,223 (62,303 both doses)
  • Cities with most cases: Clermont (6,910), Leesburg (4,004), Eustis (2,314), Mount Dora (1,966) and Tavares (1,876). The Villages also is reporting 177 cases.

MARION COUNTY

  • Cases: 28,776 – increase of 44
  • Deaths: 912
  • Hospitalizations: 1,940
  • Vaccinations: 88,924 (50,672 both doses)
  • Cities with most cases: Ocala (21,090), Summerfield (1,797), Dunnellon (1,312), Belleview (1,251) and Silver Springs (616). The Villages also is reporting 181 cases.

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