Florida Covid hospitalizations back up at year-ago level

Miami, Aug 1 (EFE).- Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Nikki Fried said Sunday that the state currently has 10,593 people hospitalized for Covid-19 and warned of the danger that the hospital system could be overwhelmed with the skyrocketing number of cases if it does not act to halt infections.

That figure for hospitalizations has not been seen since August 2020, said Fried, who at a press conference in Tallahassee, the state capital, expressed alarm over the recent rapid increase in the number of Covid cases, deaths and hospitalizations in Florida and called upon state residents to “do their part” to halt the spread of the virus.

As an example of the magnitude of the resurgence of the pandemic in the Sunshine State, she said that Florida, with 6.5 percent of the total US population, now has 21 percent of the newly detected Covid cases.

Fried, who aspires to be the Democratic candidate for the Florida governorship in 2022 and is challenging current GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis, said that only if Florida residents are “united” can they manage to reduce the spread of the virus, that is the number of infections.

“We are already behind the curve and in a worse spot every time the numbers come out,” Fried said at the news conference, adding that “This surge is and will impact every single one of us.”

She mentioned that the 21,638 newly detected Covid-19 cases in Florida, as reported on Saturday, and the 108 deaths within the July 23-29 period established new records for the pandemic, which hit Florida in March 2020.

During the July 23-29 span, a total of 110,400 new coronavirus cases were detected in Florida, and the positivity test rate increased to 18.1 percent.

According to hospital sources, 97 percent of the Covid-19 hospitalizations in Florida are people who have not been vaccinated against the virus.

Hospitals are at or nearing the limits of their capacity and that is a “dangerous” situation, according to Fried, who was elected to her current post in 2019.

Fried once again urged DeSantis and the Florida Department of Health to resume informing the public on a daily basis of the pandemic situation, not weekly as the state has been doing since June 4.

The commissioner is supplementing the lack of information by making public the pandemic figures that the Florida health department sends each day to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Although she said that Florida continues to show a “positive” trend in numbers of vaccinations against Covid, with 335,000 people being immunized between July 23-29 whereas during the previous seven-day period the figure was 288,000, Fried emphasized that the state must get a larger number of people vaccinated as soon as possible.

In that regard, she complained that Florida has not provided the public with the information they need to be confident that the vaccines are accessible and safe.

To those who have not been vaccinated, she urged them to go and get immunized “today” and to those who have relatives and friends who have not done so, she urged that they convince those people to do so as soon as possible.

The use of facemasks indoors, even by people who have been vaccinated, and maintaining social distancing are also measures that need to be followed at the moment, Fried emphasized.

Experts say that the increase in Covid-19 cases in Florida is not only due to the fact that the immunization rate generally has slowed in recent weeks but also to the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant of the virus.

The Delta variant represents at least 83 percent of the current Covid-19 cases nationwide, the CDC estimated last week.

In Florida, about 60 percent of people over age 12 have been vaccinated.

DeSantis, who is well known for his opposition to CDC policies and to the top US epidemiologist Dr. Anthony Fauci, who he accuses of wanting to impose a “dystopia” on the public, has taken no measures to deal with the resurgence of the pandemic in Florida.

He has even expressed opposition to the CDC decision to recommend the use of facemasks indoors and on Friday he issued a decree so that schools may not obligate students to use facemasks when they return to their classrooms in August.

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