Broward Mayor Steve Geller addressed the surge of COVID-19 in the community Thursday, saying the county continues to set new records in cases and hospitalizations.
"These numbers indicate that we are out of control," Geller said from the Broward Government Center.
Geller also reported the highest cohort of people getting ill with the virus are teenagers and acknowledged Broward County Public Schools' board for mandating masks for students and teachers.
At Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital, there were 36 pediatric emergency room visits at the end of June. By the end of July, there were 240. By Aug. 13, there were more than 180 ER visits, and Geller said he expects that number to soar by the end of the month.
Vaccination rates are steadily rising in Broward. Three to four weeks ago, 62.5% of the total population had at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. That percentage went up to 68.3%, Geller reported.
As of Thursday, 55.2% of the total population are fully vaccinated, up from 51.5% nearly a month ago, Geller said.
"We know that vaccinations work," Geller said. "We do have breakthroughs ... but most of them don't go to the hospital."
"Do the patriotic thing — get vaccinated," he said.
In recent weeks, Gov. Ron DeSantis has been making stops around the state, touting monoclonal antibody treatments as a way to reduce hospitalizations. About 320 treatment stations were recently set up at C.B. Smith Park in Pembroke Pines.
While Geller mentioned he is willing to cooperate with the governor in making the treatments available for the community, he emphasized that monoclonal antibodies are for treatment and not prevention.
"They are absolutely a useful tool in the toolbox of dealing with COVID-19," he said. "... they are not better than vaccines - they're different."
"It is important that people understand that difference," Geller said. "Vaccines are much more effective at preventing COVID."
DeSantis has been pushing the message of prioritizing Florida's economy over sweeping restrictions to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
"We respect you, sir, we are not trying to cause you to do statewide mask mandates," Geller said. "But just let us in the county have the ability to do what we need to do to protect our citizens in this highly urban county."