By Marsha Mullings, MPH
44 million cases, 704,000 deaths
3.6 million cases, 55,299 deaths
*The Florida Department of Health has suspended daily case and vaccine reports. The department will instead post weekly updates. The numbers reported here reflect the number of new cases and deaths for the previous week, September 24 – September 30.
Merck Pharmaceutical Antiviral Pill
Merck has announced that its new pill to treat COVID-19 reduced the risk of hospitalization and death by about 50 percent. Merck plans to seek emergency authorization for the antiviral pills to be used in the United States.
The pills are meant for people who are sick with COVID-19 but are not in the hospital. They are designed to be taken as soon as possible once a person shows symptoms of having COVID.
Merck plans to seek emergency use authorization as soon as possible. If all goes well, the FDA could approve the drug by the end of this year.
Booster shots are available for individuals who have received two doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine. The CDC recommends that the following groups should receive a booster shot of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months after completing their first two doses of the Pfizer vaccine:
people aged 65 years and older.
residents aged 18 years and older in long-term care settings.
people aged 50–64 years with underlying medical conditions.
CDC recommends that the following groups may receive a booster shot of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months after completion of their Pfizer vaccine series:
people aged 18–49 years with underlying medical conditions.
people aged 18–64 years at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of occupational or institutional setting.
At this time, only persons who have received the first two doses of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine can receive the booster. Moderna and Johnson & Johnson will announce the availability of their booster vaccines in the future.
COVID-19 remains a serious health crisis. Vigilance against disease transmission is critical. Practice good COVID-19 control strategies:
Observe social distancing guidelines (6 feet or more of separation from others).
Practice good hand hygiene (wash hands frequently with soap and warm water or use hand sanitizers).
Wear a mask when out in public if you are unvaccinated.
For more information on coronavirus (COVID-19) prevention, visit www.FloridaHealth.org; nyt.com; www.coronavirus.jhu.edu; www.cdc.gov;