FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday downplayed a spike in COVID-19 instances that’s shattered state hospitalization data and strongly reiterated his vow to not impose a masks mandate or any enterprise restrictions.
With the way more contagious delta variant now spreading exponentially, Florida hit 11,515 hospitalized sufferers Tuesday, breaking final yr’s report for the third straight day and up from simply 1,000 in mid-June.
DeSantis stated he expects hospitalizations to drop within the subsequent couple weeks, asserting that the spike is seasonal as Floridians spend extra time collectively indoors to flee the summer season warmth and humidity.
DeSantis credited his response to COVID-19, which has centered on vaccinating seniors and nursing residence residents, for the truth that fewer Floridians are dying now than final August. A yr in the past, Florida was averaging about 180 COVID-19 deaths per day throughout an early August spike, however final week averaged 58 per day. Nevertheless, 2,400 COVID-19 sufferers are in an intensive care unit, and deaths basic don’t spike till just a few weeks after hospitalizations.
“Even amongst plenty of constructive exams, you’re seeing a lot much less mortality that you just did year-over-year,” DeSantis stated at a Miami-area press convention. “Would I slightly have 5,000 instances amongst 20-year-olds or 500 instances amongst seniors? I’d slightly have the youthful.”
DeSantis additionally stated “media hysteria” on the swelling numbers might trigger individuals having coronary heart assaults or strokes to keep away from going to an emergency room for concern of being contaminated. Medical doctors interviewed by The Related Press acknowledged this occurred in the course of the early months of the pandemic, however say it’s not true, and that they’re treating the same old variety of cardiac sufferers.
President Joe Biden criticized DeSantis and different officers who’ve moved to dam the reimposition of masks mandates. He known as on resistant Republican governors to “get out of the way in which” of vaccine guidelines and endorsed New York Metropolis’s transfer to require vaccinations to dine indoors or go to the gymnasium.
“Should you’re not going to assist, no less than get out of the way in which of individuals attempting to do the precise factor,” Biden stated.
Dr. O’Neil Pyke, chief medical officer at Jackson North Medical Heart in Miami, stated many Florida hospitals are going through staffing shortages. Hospitals additionally report placing emergency room sufferers in beds in hallways, and a few are once more banning guests or suspending elective surgical procedures.
“They’re simply coming in sooner than we discharge them,” stated Justin Senior, CEO of Florida Security Web Hospital Alliance, which represents among the state’s largest hospitals caring for low-income sufferers. Nonetheless, he stated few hospitals will run out of room as they will convert non-traditional areas like convention areas into COVID-19 wards.
Penny Ceasar, who handles admissions at a hospital close to Fort Lauderdale, needs the governor to require vaccines for well being care employees and masks for everybody. Ceasar stated whereas Westside Regional Medical Heart has been getting short-term employees from different states, the alarming variety of new sufferers is taking a toll.
“You’re on an emotional rollercoaster as a result of we take care of our sufferers like we take care of our households,” stated Ceasar, a 30-year veteran.
The Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention reported greater than 50,000 new COVID-19 instances within the state during the last three days, elevating the seven-day common to one of many highest counts for the reason that pandemic started. In whole, the state has seen greater than 2.6 million instances and 39,179 deaths.
DeSantis is operating for reelection subsequent yr whereas eyeing a 2024 presidential bid. A central tenet of his nationwide picture amongst conservatives is his refusal to impose masks mandates or enterprise restrictions.
“We aren’t shutting down,” DeSantis reiterated Tuesday. “We’re going to have colleges open. We’re defending each Floridian’s job on this state. We’re defending individuals’s small companies. These interventions have failed time and time once more all through this pandemic, not simply in the US however overseas.”
DeSantis did encourage individuals to get vaccinated, saying pictures present a robust protection in opposition to getting significantly sick. About 95% of these hospitalized and nearly all current deaths have been among the many unvaccinated, hospital officers have stated.
“You may nonetheless check constructive, however on the finish of the day you possibly can flip this from one thing that was way more threatening to a senior citizen, say, to one thing that’s extra manageable,” stated DeSantis, who has been vaccinated. “That may be a big, big factor.”
The spike has come as DeSantis and native officers have fought over the best way to defend youngsters and employees as the college yr begins.
Broward County’s college board reversed a call to require facial coverings after DeSantis barred mandates and threatened to chop funding from districts that don’t comply. Broward’s board had responded to the newest science on the virus and the newest suggestions of the U.S. Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention. However the governor stated dad and mom ought to determine whether or not their youngsters ought to put on a masks to highschool.