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COVID-19 outbreaks reported at Okaloosa high schools and long-term care facilities

Tom McLaughlin
Northwest Florida Daily News

FORT WALTON BEACH — The number of COVID-19 cases in Okaloosa County's schools increased by 134 between Oct. 19-25 and as of last Wednesday stood at 375, according to a report sent out late Monday by county Health Department Director Dr. Karen Chapman. 

Coronavirus outbreaks also occurred at two long-term care facilities, Crestview Rehabilitation Center and Fort Walton Beach Developmental Center. Those left 61 residents and 29 staff infected, Chapman said in a weekly report sent to county officials.

"There is no getting around it. COVID-19 is actively spreading in Okaloosa County and has resulted in numerous outbreaks, especially, in high schools, long-term care facilities and critical workplaces," Chapman said in summarizing her most recent findings. 

More:PHOTOS: School in the age of COVID-19

Because of the fluid nature of the data, Okaloosa County School District COVID-19 numbers are reported a week behind other information gathered by the Health Department.

Of the 375 cases of COVID-19 in schools, 290 — or 77 percent — of those who caught the virus were students. School staff accounted for 85 cases. In 44 cases, the student or teacher caught the virus while at school, and most of the secondary transmission occurred between students sitting in the classroom, Chapman said.

Okaloosa Health Department Director Dr. Karen Chapman

The report said 22 of the 42 students who got COVID-19 while attending school went to Fort Walton Beach High School. Schools with 10 or more cases of students in Week 8 of the school year included Fort Walton Beach with 62 cases, Choctawhatchee High School with 15 cases and Crestview High School with 12 cases. 

More:Data shows hundreds of students sent into quarantine

"Stopping the spread of COVID-19 in our high schools should be a top priority of this community," Chapman said in her report.

A screening area is set up at the entrance to an Okaloosa County school.

COVID-19 numbers continue to increase in the county and region, and 401 new cases were reported in Okaloosa County last week, Chapman said. Virus-related hospitalizations have been rising as well, and the average number of virus patients presently occupying ICU beds has jumped to nine. 

As of Monday, Okaloosa County has recorded 6,590 COVID-19 cases and 130 deaths. There have been 6,048 cases reported in Santa Rosa County with 88 deaths. Walton County has recorded 2,553 cases and 30 deaths.