As much of the U.S. backslides from the progress made in the first half of 2021 in fighting the coronavirus, Florida is leading the way in disturbing fashion.
The state set a record Saturday with 21,683 new cases reported to the CDC. That is more than any other day during the pandemic. Deaths have increased too, with state hospitals reporting an average of 43 COVID-related deaths per day on July 29, a 70% increase from July 10. Hospitalizations are on the rise, too, leading some hospitals to restrict visits and cancel elective surgeries to free up medical manpower.
From the Miami Herald:
That’s a 12.1% jump over the previous record, Jan. 7’s 19,334 cases during the worst month of the pandemic. Daily case counts routinely surpassed 10,000 as the pandemic peaked a second time. In the succeeding months, daily case counts returned to 2,000 and 8,000.
Florida accounts for about 6.5% of the U.S. population, yet it now has 21.4% of the country’s new COVID cases, based on the data the state is reporting to the CDC. The impact of the Delta variant of the virus has led to a new influx of patients at ICUs in hospitals around the state in the past month. Miami’s Jackson Memorial Hospital is seeing their ICU beds taken up by younger and sicker patients, many of whom are not vaccinated. A nurse manager at Jackson said this to the Herald about the alarming new surge:
In Florida, about 49.2% of the state’s total population is fully vaccinated, about the same with the national average (50.2%). Miami-Dade, the state’s largest county has a 70% rate of full vaccination among people 12 and older; Broward County has roughly 60% of its residents fully vaccinated. But there are still eight million Floridians who are eligible for the vaccine but have not taken it.
Complicating things is that Governor Ron DeSantis is waging war against efforts to contain this latest COVID surge. The CDC just re-implemented its mask policy, saying all Americans, fully vaccinated or not, should wear masks indoors in places with high levels of community transmission. DeSantis has gone as far as threaten to withhold funding from school districts that try to implement mask mandates for students when classes resume in a few weeks. His stubborn stance has some questioning if he’s actually paying attention to the latest COVID numbers in his state.