Robin Napier, Administrator for the Hernando County Health Department with Danielle Taylor Senior Community Health Nursing Director, updated the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) at the regular meeting on January 12, 2021 on the current status of of COVID-19 cases in the county, as well as the progress of the new vaccination program, which began on January 4, 2021.
As vaccines have become available, the department has shifted focus, however continues to offer testing 5 days a week at the Spring Hill office in Forest Oaks Blvd. This site offers drive-through testing. The Brooksville office offers testing on Wednesday mornings.
Napier reported a total of 8,848 cases in the county as of January 11. This number is the total number of positive cases in Hernando County since the pandemic began at the beginning of 2020.
The positivity rate (percentage of people confirmed to have a positive COVID test) during the update was 13.64% and has been observed to be increasing since the beginning of the holiday season. 110 people were hospitalized on this date, and 1 individual had died since January 1.
New Focus: Vaccination
The initial allocation of Moderna vaccines on December 28, 2020 was 2,000 doses, with an additional 800 received on January 4. “Unfortunately this week, there is no allocation for Hernando County as is the case for most counties in the state. We’re not exactly sure why [the state] looking at decreased allocations probably for the foreseeable future so we know that demand is going to far exceed the supply so we’re still in that same situation.”
Napier said that when the vaccines became available, some of the first doses were offered to first responders, per an Executive Order by Governor Ron DeSantis. Following quickly behind that group were individuals over the age of 65. 554 vaccinations were given in the first week and the department is scheduled to do about 630 this week of January 11.
Because the Health Department is part of the state system, one can receive their vaccine in another county. It is important however, that the second vaccine be given in the same county as the first. Residents are urged to watch the Health Department’s Website and also the Publix Vaccine Registration site for an opportunity to register.
On January 7 and 8, the department set up a closed POD (Point of Dispensing) at the Wellington Community at Seven Hills. 736 residents of that community received their first vaccination. The Health Department has partnered with Hernando County Fire / Rescue (HCFR) to provide vaccinations.
The next closed POD will be at the Spring Hill Health Department for 300-400 healthcare workers on January 13-14. This POD is intended for healthcare workers that will not be vaccinated at their workplace, such as individual providers and those who work in smaller facilities.
The department has also been working to identify churches in the community where additional PODs can be set up in the future. In the community, Walgreens, CVS and a company called CDR McGuire will be dispensing vaccines to residents of assisted living facilities (ALFs).
Commissioner Jeff Holcomb told Napier that he had spoken to groups that had considered becoming a POD, however had problems with the contract. Holcomb reported that these groups had concerns about putting their buildings and organizations at risk. Commissioner John Allocco added that he’s aware that part of the contract required a Medical Director on site, which most non-medical establishments do not have. Napier invited interested organizations to call the Health Department for proper guidance.
Limited State of Emergency
County Administrator Jeff Rogers proposed instituting a county-wide state of emergency similar to the one that expired in May 2020. Rogers reasoned that it will allow the county to speed up processing, and move the [state] government faster to provide for the citizens.
The board voted unanimously to approve the measure.
This State of Emergency is limited to only the use of county resources and staff, and to have the ability to “move them as necessary,” and to also ease purchasing restrictions, and to be allowed to enter contracts more quickly. It would also allow the county administrator to increase spending limits.
As with the prior emergency order, this limited state of emergency will be evaluated and renewed on a weekly basis.
Watch these sites for an opportunity to register for a vaccine