Intensive care unit (ICU) beds are filling up in Broward and Miami-Dade counties, as those two regions added another 3,789 COVID-19 cases Friday.
Both counties have around 87% of their adult ICU beds filled, according to state data as of Friday morning. Palm Beach County — which completes the region’s tri-county area when joined with Broward and Miami-Dade — has filled around 78% of adult ICU beds.
Across all three counties, approximately 85% of those beds are full as of Friday morning.
Data released in Friday’s Department of Health report, which covers data from Thursday morning to Friday morning, kept up the week-to-week trend showing a drop in the share of positive tests for all three counties.
That could mean actions taken by local officials to help slow the spread are working. While the numbers remain incredibly high, they have stopped the rise seen in recent weeks.
Hospitalizations and deaths, however, are a lagging indicator, as it can take days after a positive test for an individual to fall severely ill or die. Friday morning, several Democratic members representing South Florida in Congress held a virtual Zoom conference pushing for more action to help hospitals in the region.
“When Florida shut down in the Spring, the reason we shut down is because we needed to flatten the curve so that our hospitals and health care system didn’t become overwhelmed,” said U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who represents portions of Broward County.
“Well, we are there. Our hospitals and health care systems are overwhelmed, particularly here in South Florida.”
U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, whose district spans Broward and Palm Beach counties, said he’s been speaking to doctors and nurses in recent weeks.
“They are deeply concerned. Our hospitals are scrambling. They’re scrambling to put beds in conference rooms, in classrooms,” Deutch relayed.
“They don’t have enough staff. They are reusing PPE.”
U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel shared similar information from Palm Beach.
“We have a shortage of remdesivir,” Frankel said. “We learned today in Palm Beach County we have a shortage of bed space which is going to require moving our seniors in and out of hospitals and then into nursing homes or to other facilities.”
Wasserman Schultz said Gov. Ron DeSantis should institute a statewide mandatory mask order. DeSantis has resisted such a move, instead leaving it to local governments. All three major South Florida counties. require masks in public.
Frankel continued Democrats’ calls to slow the state’s reopening measures until the virus is under control.
“I know he wants to open the economy,” Frankel said of the Governor. “So do we. But counties don’t have borders and nobody is going to want to come to Florida if we’re the epicenter of this disease.”
While numbers remain startlingly high and the average number of new confirmed cases continues to rise, the region’s positivity rate is dropping. Testing capacity has surged, so while more cases are being identified, that’s in part due to more tests being conducted.
A falling positivity rate could mean the spread of the virus is slowing, though the situation in hospitals could continue to worsen given the lag time for severe symptoms. The overall death rate also ticked up in Palm Beach County in Friday’s report. That’s the second daily report to show a slight rise in recent weeks, though the trend in all three counties has been largely downward as the virus spreads mostly among younger Floridians.
Here are some of the weekly numbers for the previous three weeks throughout the South Florida tri-county area:
— June 26-July 2: 1,726 new confirmed cases per day, 18.3% positivity rate
— July 3-9: 2,285 new confirmed cases per day, 21.1% positivity rate
— July 10-16: 2,783 new confirmed cases per day, 19.2% positivity rate
— June 26-July 2: 693 new confirmed cases per day, 13% positivity rate
— July 3-9: 1,206 new confirmed cases per day, 15.6% positivity rate
— July 10-16: 1,463 new confirmed cases per day, 14.8% positivity rate
— June 26-July 2: 403 new confirmed cases per day, 11.4% positivity rate
— July 3-9: 552 new confirmed cases per day, 13.5% positivity rate
— July 10-16: 725 new confirmed cases per day, 11.5% positivity rate
Editor’s note on methodology: The Florida Department of Health releases new data every morning around 10:45 a.m. The total number reported in those daily reports include the previous day’s totals as well as the most up to date data as of about 9:30 a.m.
Florida Politics uses the report-over-report increase to document the number of new cases each day because it represents the most up-to-date data available. Some of the more specific data, including positivity rates and demographics, considers a different data set that includes only cases reported the previous day.
This is important to note because the DOH report lists different daily totals than our methodology to show day-over-day trends. Their numbers do not include non-residents who tested positive in the state and they only include single-day data, therefore some data in the DOH report may appear lower than what we report.
Our methodology was established based on careful consideration among our editorial staff to capture both the most recent and accurate trends.