Pinellas health officials change tactics to reach unvaccinated people

Coronavirus

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — Health officials are making a number of changes amid a rise of COVID-19 cases in Florida and throughout the United States.

The CDC reported 21,000 new COVID-19 cases in Florida on Saturday, that’s 2,000 more than the previous record set in January, when vaccines were not widely available.

Florida now accounts for one in five new COVID-19 cases nationwide.

Florida also surpassed its record of COVID-19 hospitalizations. Data shows more than 10,000 people are in Florida hospitals with COVID-19.

The numbers have health officials concerned and working harder to get more people vaccinated against the virus.

“We thought that we had COVID in the rearview mirror, but now it looks like it’s coming back,” said Tom Iovino with the Pinellas County Health Department.

Health officials are working to find more ways to reach the public to administer vaccines. They’ve gone to churches and non-profit organizations and are partnering with employers to give workers shots. They’re also working with employers to give workers vaccines on site.

The health department has also teamed up with Delivered RX, which will come to residents and give them shots at their homes.

The health department is focused on fighting the more transmissible delta variant as it continues to spread.

“What makes it so insidious is that it spreads more readily than the original variants that we saw. So what happens is that now it’s easier for people to pass it from person to person,” Iovino said.

Health officials say most of those needing hospitalization are unvaccinated, but many of them haven’t had a choice.

“We have to take a look at and protect the people who can’t get vaccinated, for instance children under the age of 12 or those who chose not to get vaccinated or people who might be immunocompromised. People that may be under treatment for cancer or something along those lines. We have to be concerned about them,” said Iovino.

Health officials are encouraging those who have not been vaccinated to talk to their doctor or friends and family members who have already been vaccinated.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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