Florida congressman Vern Buchanan announced he has tested positive for Covid-19, despite being fully vaccinated.
The diagnosis comes against a backdrop of rising coronavirus infections in Florida, which has accounted for one in five new cases reported across the US over the past week.
Buchanan, a Republican who represents a district around the Gulf Coast city of Sarasota, said in a statement on Monday he was tested after experiencing “very mild flu-like symptoms” and was quarantining at home.
“This should serve as a reminder that although the vaccines provide a very high-degree of protection, we must remain vigilant in the fight against Covid-19,” he said.
More than 45,400 cases have been reported by Florida over the past seven days, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, out of about 207,200 for the US overall during that period.
Adjusted for population, Florida has averaged about 30 new cases a day per 100,000 people over the past week, up from a rate of just below 10 a fortnight ago. That per capita rate ranks third in the US behind Arkansas and Missouri, which are the country’s hotspots for the Delta variant.
Ron DeSantis, Florida’s governor, said at an unrelated press briefing on Monday, that a midsummer increase in Covid-19 cases in Florida was expected. He said a “seasonal pattern” affecting mainly sunbelt states was primarily to blame for Florida’s recent rise in infections, AP reported.
DeSantis has long been critical of pandemic-related lockdowns and mandates and insisted on Monday that the state would not impose any of these. Last week, the governor began selling foam beer holders and other merchandise that had the words “Don’t Fauci My Florida” printed on them, a reference to Anthony Fauci, the White House’s chief medical adviser.
Florida was among sunbelt states, including Arizona, California and Texas, that saw a surge in coronavirus cases in the US last summer.
With 47.7 per cent of its population fully vaccinated, Florida ranks 24th among US states in terms of vaccination coverage, but trails the national average by 0.9 percentage points, according to CDC figures.
In the month to early June, the Delta variant, which was first discovered in India, made up 2.8 per cent of genomically sequenced cases in Florida over that period, according to the most recent data on the CDC web site. That is below national average of 10 per cent in early June, and is considerably lower than proportions in Missouri (29.9 per cent), Colorado (12.2 per cent) and New Jersey (10.2 per cent).
Over that four-week period, about 62 per cent of Florida’s sequenced cases were the Alpha variant. That is just slightly more than the national share during that time of 60 per cent. The proportion of Gamma variant cases, though, at 15 per cent, lags leader Illinois (23.9 per cent) but surpasses the national average of 11 per cent. The Alpha strain was first discovered in the UK, while the Gamma strain was first identified in Brazil.