Tampa Bay sees slight increase in COVID-19 cases as holiday approaches

The Tampa Bay community is seeing an uptick in COVID-19 cases, with the weekly report showing more than 1,000 cases in Hillsborough County, though it has remained below that number for the past two weeks, according to the last Data from the Florida Department of Health.

The most recent report, which covers Dec. 10 to Dec. 16, showed 1,363 new cases of COVID-19 in Hillsborough County, an upward trend of just 850 weekly cases the previous week. The county’s weekly positivity rate also rose to 4.3% from 3% last week.

Since the start of the pandemic, Hillsborough County has reported 248,113 cases of COVID-19.

The county also recorded 6,259 new vaccinations last week, bringing the number of vaccinated Hillsborough County residents to 925,875, or 65%. The previous week, the county had reported 7,596 vaccinations.

The county’s vaccination rate is slightly lower than the percentage of people vaccinated statewide, which sits at 70%, or 14,647,710 people, according to the latest report.

Nearby Pinellas County is showing smaller increases, reporting 573 new cases last week, accompanied by a positivity rate of just 2.8%. This is only slightly up from the 536 reported the previous week.

The county has confirmed 137,219 cases of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.

The report also showed that 3,578 people in Pinellas County were vaccinated over the past week. With the addition of the newly vaccinated group, 630,343 people, or 66%, in Pinellas County received a COVID-19 vaccine.

Pasco County reported 412 new weekly reported cases and a positivity rate of 4.1%, compared to 311 reported cases in the county the previous week. Pasco County has had 80,859 cases of COVID-19 so far.

People also continue to get vaccinated at high rates in Pasco County, with 1,965 people getting vaccinated after Thanksgiving week. The county has a vaccination rate of 64%, which represents 335,683 people vaccinated.

It remains to be seen whether the new COVID-19 variant, omicron, leads to a second winter surge.

Officials will likely be watching the data more closely due to the emergence of the new omicron variant. So far, only a handful of omicron cases have been identified in the United States, and none in Florida, although it’s likely the variant has reached the Sunshine State.

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