COVID-19’s fearsome delta variant ravaged Florida over the summer, pushing the hospital system into prolonged crisis. But on Friday, the Florida Hospital Association declared the delta crisis over, and said daily social media broadcasting of hospitalization statistics would cease because they are not needed for the moment.
“While COVID-19 remains a concern, the summer delta surge in Florida is over,” said Mary C. Mayhew, President and CEO of the Florida Hospital Association, who was formerly Secretary of the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration.
“Our state’s recovery would not have been possible without the tremendous work of our doctors, nurses, and hospital staff who worked around the clock. We would also like to recognize Gov. Ron DeSantis for making monoclonal antibody treatments available to reduce the severity of the illness, keeping thousands of additional COVID-19 patients out of the hospital, and ultimately saving lives. While the worst of the delta surge is behind us, getting vaccinated remains the best protection against serious illness, possible hospitalization, and death from COVID-19,” Mayhew added.
Hospitalizations have declined from the Aug. 23 peak of 17,121, down to 2,251, a number below the same date a year ago Friday, DeSantis emphasized monoclonal treatment, which ultimately played a key role in abating some of the overcrowding in emergency rooms and ICUs throughout the state.
It was a matter of mere weeks ago when the situation looked different.
Back in August, Mayhew noted then that hospitals were under siege, and she spotlighted the high propensity of unvaccinated patients in those cases. But with delta having faded, consistent with the Governor’s assurances that Florida was weathering a seasonal surge, the urgency of bygone weeks has mercifully faded, at least for now.
The Florida Hospital Association choosing to downshift from COVID-19 comes at an opportune time for the Governor.
DeSantis has consistently been at odds with the Joe Biden White House throughout the pandemic, and is pushing for a confrontation in the coming weeks with so-called “vaccine mandates,” agitating this week for a Special Session.
The Special Session, according to the Governor’s Office, would protect Floridians against these “unfair and discriminatory” vaccine mandates.
“During this Special Session, Governor DeSantis is asking the Florida Legislature to provide protections for employees facing termination because of unfair, discriminatory COVID-19 vaccine mandates and to reaffirm that government entities including school districts may not fire any employee based on COVID-19 vaccine status. Violating government entities should be held accountable. Employers’ broad liability protections should also be reevaluated if they harm employees through vaccine mandates,” the Governor’s Office contends. “In addition, we are asking the Florida Legislature to provide greater protections to parents to manage the health care decisions of their children, including the freedom to opt their children out of mask mandates.”
“Your right to earn a living should not be contingent upon COVID shots,” DeSantis said. “When the vaccines first came out, we worked very hard to provide it, particularly to our elderly, but we said from day one: we will make it available for all, but we will mandate it on none because ultimately we want individuals to make the determinations about what is right for them. I want a state in which people are able to maintain their livelihoods, earn a living, and provide for their families. And if the federal government or big corporations are hurting people, then we have a responsibility to step up and lead.”
The details of a potential Special Session are still in negotiation. A joint statement from Senate President Wilton Simpson and House Speaker Chris Sprowls suggested that one path forward may be to exempt Florida from the jurisdiction of the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
The Summer Delta Surge in Florida is Over.
— Florida Hospital Association (@FLHospitalAssn) October 22, 2021