COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations continue to rise in Florida’s summer surge

Coronavirus

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – Doug Dozark would not have gone for a COVID-19 test had he not lost his sense of smell earlier this month.

“I couldn’t smell any whiskey,” he told 8 On Your Side.

Dozark said he credits being fully vaccinated since April for why he only had a mild case of the virus.

Despite his breakthrough infection, the 39-year-old owner of Cycle Brewery in St. Petersburg is urging the unvaccinated to get their shots.

“At this point, your choices are do something, get the vaccine or do nothing which is absolutely not helpful,” Dozark told 8 On Your Side.

Florida added more than 16,000 new coronavirus infections on Wednesday, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is the single largest day increase in the pandemic since Jan. 15.

“Here’s the bottom line, if you don’t have a vaccine, you’re going to get COVID,” Dr. Jason Wilson from Tampa General Hospital said during a Facebook LIVE with Tampa Mayor Jane Castor.

COVID-19 hospitalizations in the state are reaching the highest level since late winter, driven by the spread of the highly contagious delta variant.

Dr. Wilson said the number of hospitalized coronavirus patients at TGH jumped from 15 to 80 in the past two weeks. He told Mayor Castor many of them are in their 40’s.

“The people who are vaccinated are not the ones who ended up with oxygen supports or a breathing tube or requiring even more special type of medications to help them with covid,” Dr. Wilson said. “It’s the people who aren’t vaccinated requiring the most intensive care.”

The CDC reported 92 new COVID-19 deaths in Florida on Wednesday, bringing the total during the pandemic that began in March 2020 to 38,340.

A new CDC guidance says fully vaccinated Floridians should mask up in indoor spaces as the entire state of Florida is considered a high transmission area with the state accounting for a fifth of the nation’s new coronavirus infections last week, more than any other state.

“Without strong support and strong guidance from official bodies, it’s how many people are we gonna piss off, how many one stars do we want, how many arguments are we willing to have,” Dozark said of why he hasn’t required masks again in his business.

Dozark said he hopes local leaders issue guidelines for how businesses can help slow the spread.

“As well as you know back up for businesses that want to enforce mask rules in their business,” he added, “cause people talk about it’s my freedom and my rights, well my business is private property so it’s my rights, too.”

A new state law gives Gov. Ron DeSantis the power to invalidate local COVID-19 safety measures, like mask mandates and capacity restrictions on businesses.

“Mayor Kriseman is very concerned about the COVID-19 numbers we are seeing,” his Communications Director Ben Kirby told 8 On Your Side. “He is frustrated as well about having his hands tied by the Governor. The mayor will be meeting with the team tomorrow to discuss the alarming rise in numbers.”

In South Florida, Miami-Dade County’s mayor Daniella Levine Cava says masks will again be required at indoor county facilities following new federal guidelines recommending that even people vaccinated against COVID-19 should wear masks.

The mayor didn’t announce any mandates for businesses or restaurants but said she was strongly recommending that everyone wear masks in large crowds or close spaces.

Disney World also announced that regardless of vaccination status, masks will again be mandatory indoors starting July 30.

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