Hospitals throughout the state of Florida are seeing increases in COVID-19 numbers, so much so that some have reverted to implementing policies that limit visitors in order to curtail the possibility of spreading the virus.
Reporting from The Miami Herald details how much has changed in just the past few weeks.
Jackson Health System, a public hospital system in Miami-Dade County, which includes three separate hospitals, has seen the number of patients admitted for overnight care due to coronavirus infections increase from 66 on July 6 to 139 as of July 19, the Herald noted. Baptist Health South Florida’s system of 10 hospitals has seen the number of patients admitted for coronavirus increase nearly 300 percent since the end of June. And Memorial Healthcare System, which has six hospitals, says it’s treating 225 patients for COVID-19, compared to just 92 patients about a month ago.
The state as a whole is experiencing huge increases in coronavirus case numbers. Florida’s seven-day average of new cases being reported is currently at 6,493 cases per day — an increase of 454 percent compared to just four weeks ago, when the rate was at 1,171 per day on June 20.
What’s driving up these numbers? Some doctors at these hospitals have suggested the problem is twofold: low vaccination rates in the state, and young people wrongly believing they’re protected from the virus.
“The overwhelming majority [of patients] are unvaccinated individuals, and they do appear to be younger than before,” said Marc Napp, chief medical officer for Memorial Healthcare.
The situation is causing some hospitals to change their policies back somewhat to what they were previously, during the height of the pandemic. With limited exceptions, Jackson Health, for instance, will be suspending all visitations for its inpatient units starting on Wednesday.
Central Florida is also seeing increases in coronavirus cases at its hospitals. Orange County reported almost 2,000 new cases of the virus this past weekend alone, including five deaths. Orlando Regional Medical Center is at 97 percent capacity in its ICU, and Advent Health Orlando’s ICU is at 93 percent capacity as well.
For comparison, the national rate for ICU capacity is currently around 68 percent.
The alarming rise in COVID-19 numbers in the state caused the editorial board of The Orlando Sentinel to admonish Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis in a recent editorial over his failure to take the virus seriously.
The board chastised DeSantis for his travels outside the state, including recently to Texas, where it appeared he was promoting his future in politics.
“At the moment, it’s as if DeSantis has washed his hands of the matter and moved on to elections, borders, critical race theory, mocking [National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony] Fauci or whatever else will get him a headline,” the board added. “And every few days, nearly as many people are dying from COVID as died in the recent collapse of a condominium in South Florida.”
Indeed, in many ways DeSantis appears as though he’s trying to capitalize on anti-vaccine and other conspiratorial rhetoric related to the pandemic. On his campaign website, for example, DeSantis is selling shirts and other products with the anti-public-health message, “Don’t Fauci My Florida”.
DeSantis’s return to his home state, and the rise in coronavirus numbers in Florida overall, didn’t seem to lessen his rhetoric against Fauci. On Sunday, he gave a speech to young conservatives where he spent considerable time mocking the infectious diseases expert over his opening pitch at a Major League Baseball game last year.
But DeSantis “said nothing in his speech” about Florida’s continuing COVID-19 crisis, The Orlando Sentinel’s editorial board pointed out.
“To save lives, [DeSantis] must start acting like Florida’s governor and less like he’s auditioning for Turning Point USA or Texas Gov. Greg Abbott or whatever Fox News host comes calling,” the board added.