Florida's current COVID-19 surge is driven by younger residents

Florida is in the beginning stages of what appears to be a third wave of COVID-19 cases, but unlike the past two surges, this one is driven entirely by younger residents, with the older population more heavily vaccinated and protected from the virus.

The surge in viruses is entirely coming from those 55 and younger, particularly those 0-18 and 26-35.

Until Monday, both groups were restricted from getting a coronavirus vaccine in Florida unless they qualified because of their job or a health condition. Now, all Floridians who are 16 or older can get the vaccine. It has not yet been approved for younger children.

On the first day of eligibility, more than 1 percent of those 64 and younger, both in Duval and statewide, were vaccinated, the first time that happened so far.

Duval is one of the youngest counties in the state, so it’s especially important here to monitor this week and see how much progress we make in getting our younger population vaccinated, particularly among groups like white evangelicals and Black residents who have expressed a greater sense of vaccine hesitancy in public polling.

Obviously, the vaccines are effective. That’s what data have consistently shown. Still, it’s kind of shocking to see the effect vaccines have had on reducing the number of cases for those who are 65 or older in Florida.

The virus has also gotten less deadly. While there’s usually about a month delay between new COVID cases and COVID deaths, we see that as of a month ago, about 1 in 430 people infected were dying, compared to one in 70 in December and January.

Duval is lagging the state as a whole in the total percent of the population vaccinated, but that’s still largely attributable to how young our population is. In fact, if you account for how young we are, we are more vaccinated than you’d expect.

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In case you missed it …

Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office Assistant Chief Lakesha Burton, whose campaign has been whispered and gossiped about for months now, officially launched her 2023 campaign for sheriff.

Burton, a Democrat, is the first to announce her campaign for sheriff in what is bound to be a competitive race to succeed term-limited Sheriff Mike Williams. Burton is seeking to be the first woman elected as Jacksonville’s sheriff. She currently serves s the head of the Police Athletic League and a zone commander, and she has been the face of the Sheriff’s Office’s community-engagement initiatives in recent years. Her husband was also an assistant chief before he retired.

In 2015, she supported the police union-endorsed candidate, Jimmy Holderfield.

So far, she has not announced any policy platforms or explain how she would operate the office differently from Williams or Sheriff Rutherford before him.