The fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic ravaging Florida now is dramatically different in character from previous waves because the delta variant is putting many young people into intensive care, Florida Hospital Association President Mary Mayhew said Monday.
“In Jacksonville, in one of our hospitals, their average age now is 42 years old. They have 25-year-olds who are in intensive care, on ventilators,” Mayhew told “Morning Joe” cohost Mika Brzezinski.
Mayhew said Florida has experienced a dramatic increase in COVID-19 hospital admissions over the past 27 days, far faster than what was experienced in 2020.
“You have over 50% of our hospitalizations are between the ages of 25 and 55. It is a rapid increase, not only in hospitalizations, but in the deterioration. Sicker, sicker individuals. Again, pregnant women in our intensive care units,” she added. “This is just dramatically different from what we saw last year.”
Mayhew said doctors and nurses have been “running at this crisis” for 17 months and are exhausted.
She said that with 96% of those in the hospitals being unvaccinated people, “this is clearly ripping through the unvaccinated.”
Florida, she said, has done a good job of vaccinating seniors, while younger people took the message that they are not at risk. That is no longer true, Mayhew said.
“We’ve got to up voices, our messaging, and make sure we are loud and clear about how critically important it is for that age group to get vaccinated,” she said.
Mayhew, former Secretary of the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration under Gov. Ron DeSantis, did not offer any political criticism, even when baited by Brzezinski.
However, the show had Dave Aronberg on next, and he had no problem spinning a political concern.
The Democratic State Attorney from Palm Beach County accused DeSantis of downplaying Florida’s current public health crisis and of signing his executive order on Friday banning mask mandates in schools, in order to appeal to the far-right political base of the Republican Party.
“You have got to understand that Gov. DeSantis’ primary motivation is to become the Republican nominee for President in 2024, and that’s why he engages in this ‘performance art’ instead of good public policy,” Aronberg said.
“That’s why, while Florida became number one in the country for the coronavirus last week, the Governor had no public events focused on COVID. Instead he actually had two events where he decried mask mandates in schools. And he traveled to Utah last week to speak to a conservative political conference to bash the CDC and Dr. (Anthony) Fauci, and pledging he will never support restrictions,” Aronberg added.
“This is all about GOP Primary politics.”