The summer of 2021 is starting to look a lot like the summer of 2020 in Florida as the COVID-19 virus surges anew across the Sunshine State — though perhaps lagging about two weeks behind last year’s summer surge.
Is it a signal to alarm public health officials, fueled by the new, more insidious delta variant, as many local officials have expressed?
Or is it simply a seasonal factor, as Gov. Ron DeSantis has declared, which should be mitigated this year by the 58% of eligible Floridians who are inoculated against the deadly disease?
Vaccination rates, which began to fall off in May, began to pick up again last week statewide, perhaps as local public health officials expressed their alarm. And while only 58% of Floridians had at least one vaccination shot by last Thursday, the numbers are far higher among the groups most at risk, the elderly and people with high-risk health conditions.
Still, the delta variant is this year’s model, and it is reportedly far more viral and causing more severe cases. And far fewer Floridians are wearing masks in public this summer.
How do the summers of 2021 and 2020 compare so far?
Last Friday the Florida Department of Health reported 45,605 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 during the week ending last Thursday, July 15. Statewide, that total was a 92% increase over the previous weekly report.
One year and two weeks earlier, for the week ending July 1, 2020, the Department reported 49,893 newly confirmed cases. That was an 89% increase over the previous week’s totals.
This year, on July 9, the Department of Health reported 23,697 new cases.
One year and two weeks earlier, for the week ending June 24, 2020, the Department reported 26,285 new cases.
This year on July 2, the Department of Health reported 15,978 new cases.
One year and two weeks earlier, for the week ending June 17, 2020, the Department reported 15,348 new cases.
The 2020 Summer Surge peaked in mid-July.
By this time last year — with reports through July 15, 2020 — Florida was confirming 78,000 new cases in the previous seven-day period.
The experience of 2020 showed that hospital admission trends followed new case trends by a couple of weeks. And COVID-19-related death trends trailed hospitalizations by a couple of weeks.
In the last week of July, 2020, Florida saw 4,332 people admitted to hospitals with serious cases of COVID-19.
In the second week of August, 2020, Florida saw 1,166 people die of COVID-19 complications.
In the summer of 2020, the numbers of new COVID-19 cases plateaued in the third week of July, in the range of about 83,000 new cases confirmed during seven-day periods. Those seven-day totals then began to decline again in late July and were down in the range of 45,000 new cases per week by mid-August. The numbers were even lower by September.
Hospital admissions and deaths also declined in the late summer of 2020, a few weeks after the case numbers.