The Sunshine State had 10,207 people hospitalized with confirmed cases of Covid-19, according to data reported to the US Department of Health and Human Services.
The previous record was from July 23, 2020, more than half a year before vaccines began to go mainstream, when Florida had 10,170 hospitalizations, according to the Florida Hospital Association.
Florida now leads the nation in per capita hospitalizations for Covid-19, as hospitals across the state report having to place emergency room visitors in beds in hallways and others document a notable drop in the age of the patients.
In the past week, Florida has had an average of 1,525 adult hospitalizations per day and 35 pediatric hospitalizations per day. Both are the highest per capita rate in the nation, according to Jason Salemi, associate professor of epidemiology at the University of South Florida.
Hospitalizations and increased cases have come as the new, more transmissible delta variant has spread throughout Florida and residents have returned to pre-pandemic activities.
“The recent increase is surprising and not surprising,” Salemi said in an email late Saturday.
Federal health data released Saturday showed Florida reported 21,683 new cases of Covid-19, the state’s highest one-day total since the start of the pandemic. The latest figures were recorded on Friday and published on the website of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Saturday.The figures show how fast the number of cases is increasing in the Sunshine State: just one day earlier, Florida had reported 17,093 new cases daily.
Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis has resisted mandatory mask mandates and vaccine requirements, and along with the state legislature, has limited the ability of local officials to impose restrictions designed to stop the spread of Covid- 19. DeSantis on Friday banned school districts from requiring students to wear masks when classes resume next month.
Florida Democratic Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, who is seeking to run against DeSantis for governor, urged unvaccinated Floridians to get vaccinated Sunday. She said she was heard about a recent spike in vaccinations in the state.
“We are already behind the curve and in a worse place every time the numbers come out,” Fried said at a news conference in Tallahassee. “This increase is and will affect each and every one of us.”
Across Florida, from Jacksonville to Miami to Tampa, hospitals have been overwhelmed.
Pinellas County Administrator Barry Burton told the Tampa Bay Times that some local hospitals are already having to divert ambulances to different locations due to capacity issues.
There has been a surprising increase in the number of children with the virus in Miami hospitals, many of whom require intensive care.
Memorial Health’s Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital in Hollywood had seven Covid-19 patients. At Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami, there were 17 Covid-19 patients on Friday, including six in the ICU and one who needed a ventilator, Dr. Marcos Mestre, vice president and chief medical officer, told the Miami Herald.
About half of the patients were under the age of 12, Mestre said, and the rest were older and eligible for the vaccine. But none of the Covid-19 patients at Nicklaus Children’s on Friday were vaccinated. Most children who contract Covid-19 do not need hospitalization, Mestre said.
In the state capital, Covid-19 hospitalizations reached 70 patients Sunday at Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare, an increase of 11 people in two days.
“This is the most we’ve had,” Hospital spokeswoman Stephanie Derzypolski told the Tallahassee Democrat.
In the emergency room at UF Health North hospital in Jacksonville, Covid-19 patients were once again placed in beds in the hallways due to an increase in visits.
For many hospital workers, until a month ago, it seemed that there was light at the end of the tunnel, as people were vaccinated and hospitalizations decreased. But then the summer surge, fueled by the new delta variant, hit Florida in July.
“That light turned out to be a train in this case,” Marsha Tittle, nurse manager for UF Health North, told The Florida Times Union. “We are taking more patients than we normally would. My staff is wonderful. If you walk, they are going to have smiles on their faces and they are doing a great job. But there is a sense of defeat, like they are simply defeated.”