LARGO — COVID-19 continues to cause problems throughout Pinellas, especially among the younger population, according to County Administrator Barry Burton.

Burton provided an update on what he called a “serious” situation during the Sept. 9 commission meeting.

He reported that the seven day positive rate was down to 16.3% compared to 21% last week. The seven-day average for new cases was 686 compared to 900 the previous week. “We’re cautiously optimistic,” Burton said.

However, the highest number of new cases was in younger people, ages 10-19 and deaths were “higher than ever before,” he said.

District Six Chief Medical Examiner Jon Thogmartin, who attended the meeting on another matter, also reported that more young people were dying and many had no pre-existing conditions. Most were unvaccinated, he said.

He said the Delta variant, which is the most prevalent in the state, seems to be a “little more dangerous.”

Burton said reported some additional good news. Hospital admissions were down and due to the decrease in COVID patients at local hospitals, some were considering restarting elective surgeries. The biggest problem for hospitals, he said, is staffing.

Burton reported that 2,600 had been treated at the new monoclonal antibody treatment site in Clearwater.

“It seems to be effective,” he said.

The treatment is designed for persons exposed to the virus to prevent severe illness, hospitalization and death among high-risk individuals.

For more information, visit floridahealthcovid19.gov.

The county continues to advocate getting a vaccination. Burton said currently about 6,400 a week are getting a shot.

The county is currently preparing to administer booster shots to assist local pharmacies that are administering them now to those that qualify. He said a large site in mid-county had been found that will be used for booster shots and testing for everyone. No further details were available.

Commissioner Janet Long said while she too was cautiously optimistic, she is worried about the numbers after Labor Day and from those attending football games with no restrictions for spectators.

“The numbers are down, but they’re still serious numbers,” Burton said. “The best chance is to get vaccinated. It significantly lowers the chances of getting it (COVID) and if you do, you have less serious effects.”

As of Sept. 9, 582,178, or 65%, of Pinellas County residents had received at least one dose of vaccine.

According to the Florida Department of Health’s Sept. 10 report for the week of Sept. 3-9, the new case positivity rate for Pinellas was 14.7% down from 16.3% reported for Aug. 27-Sept. 2 and 18% reported for Aug. 20-26.

Pinellas County’s new case count was up by 4,430, an average of 633 a day, which was a decline from 5,683 for the week of Aug. 27-Sept. 2. The cumulative count since March 2020 climbed to 124,373.

The CDC reports that the transmission rate in Pinellas is high with a 16% decrease in new cases over the past seven days. New hospital admissions totaled 660, which was down 14% from the prior week.

More information about COVID in Pinellas is available at https://covid19.pinellascounty.org/.

Suzette Porter is TBN’s Pinellas County editor. She can be reached at sporter@tbnweekly.com.