At his news conference Tuesday morning in Miami, Gov. Ron DeSantis sounded frustrated at how much attention the news media are paying to Florida’s COVID-19 case numbers and hospital admissions.
Yet in many ways, Florida’s summer COVID-19 surge appears to be the worst in the country by far, and its certainly the worst public health crisis Florida has suffered throughout the 18 months of the coronavirus pandemic.
DeSantis’ latest frustration was expressed on a day that federal data cited by the Florida Hospital Association showed Florida with 11,515 COVID-19 patients hospitalized in one day. His administration has challenged whether that figure represents a record day for Florida in the COVID-19 pandemic era, as some media and DeSantis’ critics have charged, but much of that dispute involves which data sets are used.
Regardless of when Florida exceeds its worst days of the summer of 2020, for weeks now the state has led the nation in the numbers of new COVID-19 cases, confirming 110,000 last week, and more than 21,000 cases on Friday.
The Sunshine State also clearly is leading the nation in other COVID-19 categories. Florida’s hospitals are feeling the crush.
“The bottom line really needs to be: COVID hospitalizations have increased dramatically and we have surpassed the July peak of 2020,” Florida Hospital Association President Mary Mayhew said Tuesday.
“If you take a step back from the data, we’re trying to understand the impact of the delta variant. We know it is more infectious. It is attacking a younger population in their 20s and their 30s, and previously, prior to the delta variant, would not have landed at this level, in the hospital,” Mayhew said.
One thing is for sure: more than 90% of those being hospitalized are unvaccinated.
“It is ripping through the unvaccinated and it is putting 25 year olds in the hospital, in intensive care, and on ventilators,” Mayhew said.
Based on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services data, how is Florida stacking up? Through Saturday, the most recent day for which a full, national set was available:
— If compared to the total number of inpatient beds used for COVID-19 cases, apparently the figure cited by state authorities, there were 11,909 on July 23, 2020, more than the 11,515 reported Tuesday for Monday in Florida.
Regardless, that July 23, 2020, worst-ever hospital load inevitably will be eclipsed soon, probably this week, as Florida’s hospitalization numbers have been climbing by hundreds of additional COVID-19 patients each day recently.
— If compared to the total of adults or children confirmed positive for COVID-19 in Florida hospitals, the figure reported by the Florida Hospital Association, Tuesday’s total surely is a worst-ever day for Florida.
The reported total for Monday of 11,515 topped the 10,378 recorded on July 25, 2020, as did the total reported for Sunday, of 10,389.
— No other state in America is seeing nearly as many COVID-19 patients admitted to hospitals as Florida.
On Saturday, Florida’s total of 10,211 was almost as many as the next two states combined. Texas reported 6,512 COVID-19 patients in hospitals, and California, 4,353. Georgia was fourth, reporting 2,416 in-patient beds used for COVID-19 patients.
— It’s getting worse. Almost every day last week, Florida hospitals combined to report newly admitting more confirmed COVID-19 patients than Florida had experienced in any previous day of the coronavirus crisis.
On Saturday, 1,749 adults and 50 children were newly admitted to Florida hospitals with confirmed cases of COVID-19, more than Texas and California combined on that day. On Saturday, Texas reported 956 newly admitted COVID-19 patients of all ages, and California, 678. Georgia was fourth again, with 537 new COVID-19 patients in hospitals.
— In Florida, 84% of all inpatient beds were in use on Saturday. That was not the nation’s highest, partly because Florida has a large and robust system of hospitals, with more beds available per capita than most states.
In Rhode Island, 91% of hospital beds were in use. In Missouri and Massachusetts, 85% of all hospital inpatient beds were in use. Maryland and Georgia also were at 84% with Florida.
— Yet Florida had the highest percentage in the nation of its hospital beds being used for COVID-19 patients, 21% of all hospital beds on Saturday.
Louisiana was second with 17%. In Nevada, 16% of all hospital beds were filled with COVID-19 patients. In Arkansas and Mississippi, 15% of hospital beds were filled with COVID-19 patients.
— In Florida, 87% of intensive care unit beds were in use Saturday, the third highest rate in the country.
In Alabama, 89% of ICU beds were filled on Saturday; in Missouri, 88%.
— In Florida, 32% of all ICU beds were filled with COVID-19 patients on Saturday, the third highest rate in the country.
Missouri reported 35% of its hospital ICU beds were occupied on Saturday by COVID-19 patients, and Arkansas had 33% of ICU beds filled with COVID-19 patients.
— Broken down by age brackets, on Saturday Florida newly admitted the most 18 and 19 year-old COVID-19 patients to hospitals of any state in the country, with 19 new patients; the most COVID-19 patients in their 20s, with 113; the most in their 30s, with 201; the most in their 40s, with 251; the most in their 50s, with 325; the most in their 60s, with 307; the most in their 70s, with 252; and the most age 80 or older, with 211. (Another 70 adult COVID-19 patients admitted Saturday were listed as age unknown.)
Texas admitted the second-most 18 and 19 year old COVID patients Saturday, 10, and the second-most patients age 80 or older, 77.
— In Florida, hospitals reported 92 COVID-19 deaths on Saturday, the most in the country.
In Texas, 48 deaths were reported Saturday; in California, 25; and in Missouri, 22.
— In Florida, 33 hospitals said on Saturday they currently had a critical staffing shortage, 167 said they did not, and 59 did not report an answer.
In California, 71 hospitals reported critical staffing shortages, though 308 said they did not have such shortages. In Louisiana, 45 hospitals reported critical staff shortages, and 173 said they were fine, and in Oklahoma, 36 reported critical staff shortages with 103 indicating sufficient staff. All other states had fewer hospitals than Florida reporting critical staff shortages.