Audrey Stasko

Audrey Stasko

Citrus County is seeing an increase in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations, according to local officials monitoring cases of the potentially deadly disease.

“We’re not going in the right direction,” said Audrey Stasko, spokeswoman for the department of health in Citrus County. “This is alarming.”

Despite months of declining COVID-19 cases, cases are again on the rise, as it is in many Florida counties and in many parts of the United States, according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

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The CDC reported yesterday an average of 24,141 new cases nationally per day over the previous seven days, more than a 65% increase over the week before. The number of new cases has doubled during the past three weeks, according to the Johns Hopkins University data.

Stasko told the Chronicle that local cases mirrored the national trend.

During the end of May Citrus County was seeing between five and 10 new cases per day, Stasko said. During the week of July 6 - July 12, the average number of new cases here had grown to 19-20 per day.

“And we are seeing it in younger, unvaccinated people,” Stasko said.

The rise in Citrus is not a surprise, Stasko said.

Only 51% of the population 12 years old and older in Citrus County has been vaccinated, she said.

Even though almost half of the people eligible for the vaccine have not been inoculated, many people in the community “have become relaxed” and gone back to pre-COVID behavior and forgotten the virus is contagious and deadly, Stasko said.

“It’s out of sight, out of mind,” she said of the coronavirus. “And that’s just not the case.”

From July 2 - July 8, the percent of people getting tested and being positive was 6.1%. That was up from 5.4% the week before. Nearly 12,000 people in Citrus County have been infected. Of those, 463 people have died, according to USAFacts.

Stasko said the rising numbers are not surprising given the recent Independence Day celebrations and that school is out and people are mingling and traveling on vacations again.

Stasko said she wants to remind people that most of the people getting infected are those who have not been vaccinated and getting vaccinated is still easy.

The DOH in Citrus County is still offering free vaccinations 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday  and 11 a.m. - 7 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday at the Duke Energy building at 8200 West Venerable St., Crystal River. The DOH will also offer vaccinations 9 a.m. - 4 p.m., Saturday, July 24.    

No appointment is necessary. For more information contact DOH at 352-527-0068 and follow the prompts dialing nine and then three.

Contact Chronicle reporter Fred Hiers at fred.hiers@chronicleonline.com or 352-397-5914.