Florida shattered its own COVID-19 records this week — reporting the highest rate of infections since the pandemic began more than a year ago.
In the week from July 30 to Aug. 5, the Sunshine State recorded 134,506 new cases of coronavirus, averaging over 19,000 per day with a positivity rate of 18.9 percent, according to the latest data released by the Florida Department of Health on Friday evening.
That was the state’s highest infection rate in a single week since March of 2020, driven by the newer, more contagious delta variant, the Tampa Bay Times reported. It was also about 22 percent higher than the state’s numbers reported the previous week.
Florida’s new cases account for well over one-fifth of the country’s seven-day moving average of 96,511, according to data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday.
The state’s hospitalizations also reached their highest point in the pandemic this week, with more than 12,864 confirmed COVID-19 patients as of Friday, the Department of Health and Human Services reported. That’s a daily average of 1,837 hospitalizations per day.
A roundtable of Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration and healthcare leaders met with Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday to discuss the increase in hospitalizations — which are nearly exclusively from those who are unvaccinated.
“Despite the information that’s coming out about people that are fully vaccinated still getting COVID, those numbers are low,” said Dr. George Ralls, Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer of Orlando Health in a statement shared by the Governor’s office. “And they are absolutely still in a better situation than they would have been had they gotten COVID without the vaccine. So really, really important to drive that message to everybody.”
DeSantis has pledged not to shut down businesses or impose a mask mandate amid the surge in cases, predicting that it seasonal outbreak — and adding that lockdowns “have failed time and time again throughout this pandemic.”
“We are going to have schools open,” he said Tuesday. “We are protecting every Floridian’s job in this state. We are protecting people’s small businesses. These interventions have failed time and time again throughout this pandemic, not just in the United States.”
The governor has also passed legislation banning local k-12 school districts from mandating masks.
On Friday, the University of Florida in Gainesville announced that masks would be mandatory for all its students while indoors at all times when it reopens this fall, even those who are fully vaccinated.
The school has asked all students returning to receive at least their first dose of the vaccination by July 22.
“As previously communicated, UF cannot be responsible for that risk, given the ready availability of vaccine, and cannot modify the operation of the entire university for a minority of people who may choose not to be vaccinated,” the statement added.
According to the Florida DOH, roughly 63 percent of the state has been vaccinated so far.