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COVID-19 cases in Marion County reach a new low

Nurse practitioner administers a COVID-19 swab test at a drive-thru testing site.
Nurse practitioner administers a COVID-19 swab test at a drive-thru testing site.(Newsday via Getty Images)
Published: Mar. 28, 2022 at 6:57 PM EDT
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OCALA, Fla. (WCJB) - The number of positive COVID-19 cases in Marion County is on the decline. The Marion County Department of Health (Marion-DOH) is reporting that the local positivity rate has dropped to its lowest levels for the first time since June last year. Most striking is the “number of new COVID-19 infections has plunged 99% since Jan. 13, when a record 5,536 cases were reported,” according to recent data.

Officials said more people are getting vaccinated in the county. According to this data, the percentage of residents who are 5-years-old and up, who have been vaccinated, is 64%.

From COVID-19 cases reported during the week of March 18 to March 24, Marion saw:

- An average of 8 new cases per day

- 1.2% positivity rate

- A total of 87 vaccinated

Bill Thompson, Public Information Officer, Marion-DOH

Is it a sign that we’re finally getting back to normal? Residents and tourists alike certainly hope so.

“I think that offers another comfort level to our residents and for visitors coming to Florida,” said Marion-DOH Administrator, Mark Lander over a Zoom interview. “That combined with vaccination really does offer a higher level of protection for everyone.”

We caught up with Ray Owens of Cleveland during a lunch break at the city park, Blue Run of Dunnellon. He said he and his partner have been on vacation for about a week and a half, and will soon be “headed back to the cold weather of Ohio.”

“Definitely the lower COVID numbers had a lot of impact on us deciding to venture out of the house,” Owens said.

Across the parking lot, Taryn Walberg was resting after a trip down the Rainbow River in her kayak. She flew in Sunday from Connecticut to visit her parents who moved to Florida in December.

“We plan to visit a lot more, over the next few years,” she said. “A couple of times a year we’ll be down here.”

She said she was relieved to hear the news that COVID-19 cases on decreasing in the area. “Finally after two years of basically staying inside and doing nothing, it is a relief absolutely,” said Walberg.

And while this does seem like the best news “our community has had with COVID-19 in quite some time,” Lander wrote in a recent press release, it’s not time to let our guards down. The health department is encouraging residents to continue implementing “good personal hygiene” including hand washing.

“We’re right at the end of what we’d consider one of our flu seasons,” said Lander. “There are so many other viruses that can be passed along from poor hygiene.”

The Department of Health offers free COVID-19 vaccinations at its main office, 1801 SE 32nd Ave., in Ocala from 8:30–11:30 a.m. and 1–4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. No appointment is necessary and walk-ins are accepted.

Free COVID-19 testing is being done at the Florida Horse Park, 11008 S. County Rd. 475, in Ocala by the mobile lab service, Curative Inc. The service uses “shallow nasal PCR tests.” Those being tested can expect results “via email or text within 24 to 48 hours.” Register for an appointment at Curative.com.

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