Florida Congressman Vern Buchanan announced that despite being fully vaccinated, he tested positive for Covid-19.
The diagnosis is made against the backdrop of rising coronavirus infections in Florida, of which one in five new cases was reported in the United States in the past week.
Buchanan, a Republican who represents a district around the Gulf Coast city of Sarasota, said in a statement Monday that he had been tested after experiencing “very mild flu-like symptoms” and being quarantined at home.
“This is a reminder that while the vaccines offer a very high level of protection, we must remain vigilant in the fight against Covid-19,” he said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 45,400 cases were reported in Florida in the past seven days, out of about 207,200 for the US total during that period.
When adjusted for population, Florida averaged about 30 new cases per day per 100,000 residents for the past week, up from a rate of just under 10 two weeks ago. This per capita rate ranks third in the USA behind Arkansas and Missouri, the country’s hotspots for the Delta variant.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said at an independent press conference on Monday that a midsummer rise in Covid-19 cases in Florida was expected. He said a “seasonal pattern” affecting mostly sunbelt states is primarily responsible for the recent surge in infections in Florida, AP reported.
DeSantis has long criticized pandemic-related bans and mandates and insisted on Monday that the state would not impose any of them. Last week, the governor began selling foam beer holders and other merchandise with the words “Don’t Fauci My Florida” printed on them, alluding to Anthony Fauci, the White House senior medical advisor.
Florida was one of the sun belt states, including Arizona, California, and Texas, which saw a surge in coronavirus cases in the United States last summer.
With 47.7 percent of the population fully vaccinated, Florida ranks 24th in the U.S. for vaccination coverage, but is 0.9 percentage points below the national average, according to CDC figures.
In the month leading up to early June, the Delta variant, first discovered in India, made up 2.8 percent of genomically sequenced cases in Florida during that period, according to the latest data on the CDC website. That is below the national average of 10 percent in early June and well below the proportions in Missouri (29.9 percent), Colorado (12.2 percent) and New Jersey (10.2 percent).
During that four week period, approximately 62 percent of the sequenced Florida cases were alpha. That is only slightly more than the national share of 60 percent at the time. The proportion of cases of gamma variants is 15 percent behind the leader Illinois (23.9 percent), but exceeds the national average of 11 percent. The alpha strain was first discovered in the UK while the gamma strain was first identified in Brazil.