Florida must flatten Covid curve again, now due to Delta, fewer vaccinations

Miami, Aug 2 (EFE).- Authorities, hospital managers and physicians on Monday urged Floridians to readopt the good “habits” they displayed at the start of the coronavirus pandemic and for everyone who has not yet been vaccinated against Covid-19 to get the jab, emphasizing that this is the only way to halt the record increase in infections and hospitalizations that have hit the Sunshine State in recent weeks.

Florida has become the epicenter of the new Covid wave in the US due to the rapid spread of the Delta variant and a stagnant vaccination rate.

The top US health official, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, on Monday told CBS that he is “deeply concerned” about what is happening in Florida and with the increase in cases in other parts of the country, in the face of which he urged Americans to increase their vaccination rate at the same time that he urged them to wear facemasks.

The president of the Florida Hospital Association, Mary Mayhew, told MSNBC after learning on Sunday that 10,207 people had been hospitalized for Covid-19 in the state that what the US has experienced over the past 27 days is a “dramatic” increase in the number of hospitalizations” due to the virus.

She said that Florida took 60 days to reach its prior record of 10,179 hospitalizations in July 2020, before any vaccines were available, while now it broke that old record within just 27 days.

She said that the people being hospitalized now are a significantly younger cohort than those hospitalized earlier, emphasizing that the resurgence in cases is occurring in the cities of Jacksonville and Orlando.

In fact, one Jacksonville hospital in the Mayo hospital network has exceeded its capacity of 304 beds set aside for Covid-19 patients, according to local media reports.

Mayhew said that more than 50 percent of the Covid hospitalizations are between 25-55 years of age, something that is “dramatically different” from the situation last year, and 96 percent are people who are unvaccinated.

To reverse the current situation, the vaccination rate must be increased, Mayhew said.

In Florida, just 49 percent of people older than age 12 are completely immunized, having received the two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna – or the single dose of the Johnson & Johnson – vaccines.

Miami-Dade County, the state’s most populous county with some 2.7 million residents, all during the pandemic has been the area with the most Covid cases and deaths, and it remains in the No. 1 spot today.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said on Monday that the county is the top area for Covid infections in Florida and now is the time when everyone understands that halting the spread of the virus depends on everyone doing their part.

Health expert Dr. David Andrews, with the University of Miami, told EFE of his concern that the large numbers of people who are resisting getting vaccinated around the country are preventing the Delta variant from being wrestled under control, just as has been occurring in India and the United Kingdom.

Michel Teng, a virology expert with the University of South Florida, said that as long as everyone is not vaccinated it is necessary to return to the old “habits” of wearing facemasks and social distancing.

In Miami-Dade, vaccination centers in recent days have registered an increase in people looking to get the jab, as well as people wanting to be tested for Covid.

At Tropical Park, where one of the largest drive-through Covid testing sites has been established, there were about 30 vehicles in line early Monday morning and local personnel said they expected more cars to arrive at midday and after working hours.

At another spot in the county, in the Brickell district, a tourist and financial neighborhood, at one of the small Covid testing centers run by the Curative company half an hour after opening there were 15 people waiting in line.

One of the employees who does swab tests there but who did not want to be identified by name, told EFE that they are serving 120-130 people per day in the more than eight hours during which the center is open seven days a week from 9 am to 5:30 pm.

Hotels and seasonal rentals abound in the area and many of the people waiting in line on Monday were tourists.

Nearby there is a large Publix supermarket, which last week decided once again to demand that all employees there wear facemasks, a measure recommended by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and which is being followed by many Florida companies and institutions.

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