Physicians Worry Herd Immunity Slipping Away; Some Criticize DeSantis for Recent COVID Response

South Florida hospitals report cases of COVID-19 are creeping up daily

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Hospitals across Broward County and Miami-Dade County are restricting visitors in response to the increase in COVID-19 cases and rising positivity rate.

“It is a struggle not to feel disappointed that this isn’t stopping anytime soon,” said Dr. Paula Eckardt, Chief of Infectious Disease at Memorial Healthcare System.

The latest totals of COVID-positive patients in the hospital creep up daily, with as many as 354 in the Baptist Health Care System and 122 in the Broward Health Care System. Many say they often have the same request.

“Yeah, all of them say, 'I wish I had the vaccine — this is not fun. I wish I knew, why didn’t I do this,' and they’re telling their families to get vaccinated,” said Dr. Eckardt.

Meanwhile, a handful of physicians criticized Gov. Ron DeSantis for the way he’s handling the pandemic of late, claiming he’s stopping encouraging people to get vaccinated.

“If DeSantis actually wants to be protecting Floridians and lifting them up, he should be doing everything possible to encourage them to get vaccinated, not suing the CDC over vaccine rules,” said Mona Mangat, an allergy and immunology specialist.

In Fort Pierce Thursday, DeSantis re-affirmed his pledge not to require masks in schools come fall, claiming masks don’t offer protection for students.

“We need them to be able to breathe, it’s terribly uncomfortable for them to do it. There’s not much science behind it,” DeSantis said.

“We also knew masks and social distancing were effective at protecting spread of the virus, and DeSantis chose to largely ignore the science about these simple tools,” said Dr. Mangat.

“Our voices are not being heard, our expertise is being negated and blocked by politicians, and guess who pays the price? Patients and we are paying the price because our hospitals are overwhelmed because of this disinformation and this lack of rigorous scientifically based policies. It’s criminal,” said Dr. Frederick Southwick, Infectious Disease Specialist at UFHealth.

The Florida Department of Health reported more than 45,000 new cases of COVID-19 last week, which is twice the number of cases from the previous week. The state also announced 231 new deaths.

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