In the week ending Friday, Florida saw another 132,531 confirmed cases of COVID-19 — more than the next two states Texas and California combined — continuing the Sunshine State’s struggle with the nation’s worst summer surge of 2021.
In addition to that foreboding statistic, included in Tuesday’s latest compilation of state COVID-19 reports from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Florida also continues to top the nation in total numbers of people admitted to hospitals with COVID-19, as well as its rising death toll.
Still, things could be considered worse in Louisiana on a per capita basis, according to the federal data updated Tuesday.
There might be no argument from Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, who on Monday called for statewide fasting and prayer to symbolically call attention to the crisis of that state’s summer surge of COVID-19.
“Join me and @FirstLadyOfLA in praying & fasting during lunchtime August 9-11 for our health care workers & all those affected by COVID-19,” Edwards, a Democrat, tweeted Monday. “In addition to prayer, I urge all Louisianans to protect their neighbors & themselves by getting their vaccines & wearing masks.”
In Louisiana last week, 31,421 new cases were confirmed in the week ending last Friday, according to the latest HHS data. That represented 676 new cases for every 100,000 residents in the state, the worst per capita rate in the country. In Florida, last week’s total represented 617 new cases per 100,000 residents. Mississippi had the third-highest per capita rate nationally, with 492 new cases per 100,000; Arkansas had a rate of 486; and Alabama, 360.
COVID-19 death tolls are more snapshots of what is in authorities’ in-basket at the moment in time, rather than actual totals of fatalities. That’s because local authorities can take days or weeks to confirm or refute that deaths were caused by COVID-19. The death totals released by authorities are updated as reports come in, not as the deaths occur. And the numbers always are subject to change as cases’ are reevaluated.
Florida’s rate of COVID-19 related deaths rose by 631 fatalities during the seven days through Friday. That was the country’s highest total of new fatalities but represented the nation’s third-highest death rate at 2.9 new COVID-19 deaths per 100,000. Arkansas added 169 deaths to its COVID-19 toll, a rate of 4.5 newly confirmed COVID-19 deaths per 100,000 people. Louisiana had 194 newly confirmed COVID-19 deaths, a rate of 4.2 per 100,000. Texas had the second-most total deaths attributed to COVID-19 last week, 313, less than half Florida’s total.
The HHS data released Tuesday also show Florida had the nation’s highest percentage of hospital beds filled with COVID-19 patients last Friday, at 20%. Louisiana was second, with 16% of all hospital beds filled with COVID-19 patients; and Nevada third, at 15%.
Also, in Florida, 34% of intensive care unit beds were filled with COVID-19 patients, tied with Missouri for the highest rate in the country. In both Louisiana and Arkansas, 32% of ICU beds were filled with COVID-19 patients.
Broken down by county, the HHS report shows that more than a third of the nation’s hardest-hit large counties are in Florida.
Among 604 counties or parishes in America with at least 100,000 residents — discounting low-population counties where numbers can be skewed — the worst outbreak reported in Imperial County, California. There, new cases were confirmed at a rate of 1,064 for every 100,000 residents last week. The next four hardest-hit counties with at least 100,000 people were all in Louisiana or Alabama.
The sixth-worst rate nationally was Duval County, which saw 807 new cases per 100,000 residents. Bay County was eighth-worst; Clay County, 13th; and Volusia County, 17th.
A total of 18 Florida counties with at least 100,000 people were among the 50 worst in the country in per capita infections last week. The other counties making the nation’s Top 50 were St. Johns, Hernando, Brevard, Flagler, Osceola, Miami-Dade, Orange, Polk, Lake, Pasco, Leon, Marion, Seminole, Escambia counties. Each recorded a rate of more than 500 new COVID-19 cases last week per 100,000 residents.