POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — COVID-19 cases have quadrupled in recent weeks as more people are hospitalized and vaccinations slowly tick upwards, Polk County’s top health official said.
“I’m using the word ‘surge’ in Polk County, by my definition, which means my hair is on fire, and I’m very concerned because of the trajectory, the speed at which we’ve increased cases,” said Dr. Joy Jackson, director of the Florida Dept. of Health in Polk County.
There were 2,500 new coronavirus cases in the county last week, she said.
“Of our recent cases, it’s estimated that over 95 percent are unvaccinated,” Jackson said.
Hospitals across the county are reporting an increase in COVID-19 patients.
Lakeland Regional Health was treating 174 patients with COVID-19 as of Monday at 3pm.
Jackson has several theories on the cause of the surge, including July 4 celebrations, children being out of school, and the Delta variant.
Fifty-two percent of eligible people in Polk County are vaccinated, according to Jackson.
One third of eligible 12-to-19-year-olds are vaccinated.
“We are definitely seeing an uptick in people getting vaccinated,” Jackson said. “It’s not huge, but it’s enough that it’s promising.”
She has reached out to city and county officials to spread the word about the importance of vaccines.
She is making a presentation to Winter Haven city commissioners Monday evening.
“It’s disturbing; there’s no doubt about it,” said Rick Wilson, chair of the Polk County board of commissioners.
The commission is not making any changes or taking any action at this time, he said.
He said he thinks the people who really wanted the shot already received the shot.
“They think, they would say in Polk County,” Wilson said. “They’re bulletproof. They’re not gonna do it. I think it takes somebody close to them, maybe, to get it.”