What to Know
- According to figures released Friday, the number of reported COVID-19 cases in Florida have nearly doubled, from 23,000 to 45,000
- One statistic released by the White House estimated that 20% of new cases last week occurred in Florida
- Gov. Ron DeSantis and local health officials are urging people to get vaccinated amid the recent spike
As Florida's COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to spike, local health officials and the state's governor are urging people to get vaccinated.
According to figures released Friday, the number of reported cases in Florida have nearly doubled, from 23,000 to 45,000. One statistic released by the White House estimated that 20% of new cases last week occurred in Florida.
About 3,200 COVID patients were hospitalized in the state on Friday, a jump of 73% since June 14, when 1,845 were hospitalized.
At a news conference Monday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said the case spike in July was expected as the virus is following a seasonal pattern, and he stressed the importance of getting vaccinated.
"If you are vaccinated though, the number of people that end up hospitalized is almost zero, it's incredibly, incredibly low, so I think there's some misinformation out there where someone will say 'oh these people were vaccinated then they tested positive,'" DeSantis said. "Understand, a positive test is not a clinical diagnosis of illness and so if you're vaccinated and you test positive but you don't get sick, well the name of the game is to keep people out of the hospital."
Officials with Jackson Health System in Miami said Monday that Miami-Dade's cases are increasing at about five times the national rate. The officials announced Monday that they have seen a 111% increase in COVID-19 patients since July 6. Nearly all patients being treated by Jackson are unvaccinated.
Jackson elevated its virus threat level to “high” and said it would end visitation hours for many patients beginning Wednesday.
"We are seeing some breakthrough infections but the majority of people who are very sick, who are at risk of death… are those who are unvaccinated," said Dr. Lilian Abbo, chief of infectious diseases at Jackson Health. "Even with the mutations, even with the variants, the vaccines are protective against severe disease and death."
Florida International University infectious disease expert Dr. Aileen Marty said Monday that it could be premature to say the increase in cases in purely seasonal.
“We’re seeing cycles depending on what’s going on in the community, how people are behaving, how they’re interacting and as new variants form and facilitate further transmission. A combination of factors leads to a rise in cases," Marty said. "These are young people being hospitalized and where our highest rates of under-vaccinated people are. What we’re seeing in the hospital, we are seeing these individuals that are unvaccinated almost exclusively."
DeSantis said nearly 85% of seniors in the state have been vaccinated, though figures showed the number of vaccinations administered weekly has fallen by almost 80% statewide since April.
"We have three vaccines availale, anyone, any adult can get it, at pharmacies, health departments, you name it. Very easy to get, very quick process," DeSantis said.
The governor said he doesn't support vaccine mandates, but said it's important to have the right messaging for people who may be skeptcal of receiving the vaccine.
"You don't want to say things that are going to cause them to retreat even further," DeSantis said. "Have a little humility when you're trying to carry that message, understand that there's some people that may have qualms.
"What I try to do is just present the data, and if I thought the data didn't justify, then I would say that."
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