Dr. Ben Abo, an emergency room physician in Naples, Florida, is on the frontlines of the state’s uphill battle with COVID-19; on Monday, the Florida Hospital Association reported 10,389 Covid-19 hospitalizations, the most statewide during any point in the pandemic. 

For Abo, who spent a month aiding in the search and rescue operation at the Surfside building collapse, the latest wave is especially exacerbating because it was preventable. About 95 percent of those hospitalized in Florida are unvaccinated.

“If more people would have been vaccinated, then we wouldn’t be in the mess we’re in now,” he told The Daily Beast. “This variant, it’s pretty bad. It’s more contagious.”

Abo has encountered many patients who refused to get the vaccine and are now dying.

“And they are very sick and they’re miserable and they want something done about it, and I keep telling them, ‘You can’t turn back time and get vaccinated.’ A majority say they wish they got vaccinated.”

Dr. Ben Abo

Abo says the unvaccinated – who he calls the ‘non-vaxxed’ – are “ignorant about what they do to other people and how they tax the systems.”

More from The Daily Beast:

The non-vaxxers have some standard lines they utter in the ER.

“The same thing, one after another: ‘I didn’t think I’d get sick’… ‘I don’t believe in it’… ‘I don’t need it’…” Abo reported.

One common question is, “What don’t I feel better? I’m so exhausted.”

His answer is, “Well, because you didn’t get vaccinated and you’ve got COVID.”

Abo is frustrated with the limited range of options to treat the infected: there are some antibody treatments but not much else.

“It’s just horrible,” Abo said. “I’m so sick and tired of it. People were given a way out of this and they didn’t take it.”

Abo has particular disdain for lawmakers who resist COVID-19 safety measures: “I think it is ridiculous that the governors like Florida and Texas continue to make it political and not allow people to make sound judgments.”

Politco provides details on the defiant COVID-19 approach of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a Republican:

DeSantis…has maintained a strict “no-mandate” approach to the virus, including touting an executive order last week that prohibits school districts from requiring masks in K-12 facilities. He also vowed to fight any cities or municipalities that try to institute Covid restrictions, including mask mandates or lockdowns.

“All they are is selfish,” Abo, the father of a three year-old, said.

He added, “If they really want to do the argument that people have freedom of choice, then why don’t I have the freedom to protect my children, to protect my family? By them saying everybody should have a choice, they’re taking away our choice.”