TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — After touting the launch of an antibody treatment site in Orlando, Gov. Ron DeSantis backed away from committing the state health department to publishing its daily COVID-19 numbers on its own website.
The antibody treatment site in Orlando follows the launch of a Regeneron rapid response initiative in Jacksonville.
Last week, the governor told reporters and the public that state officials were considering releasing county-specific case numbers, rather than just statewide updates.
When asked about Florida’s Department of Health giving daily updates again while in Orlando, DeSantis said the state is releasing daily COVID numbers through the CDC, backing off from having Florida DOH release daily numbers on its own.
“They are released; every day the CDC puts out the case numbers, and that’s something that people have had access to the whole time,” DeSantis said. “It’s being released through the CDC, CDC is doing the same thing that Health [DOH] would do. It’s coming from the state; the state uploads it there.”
The state health department stopped its own daily number updates in June.
DeSantis had previously mentioned a possible return to daily number releases, just days after verbally sparring with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention over accuracy.
Still, Florida’s data releases continue to show different ranges of numbers, with weekly totals reported by DOH having large differences compared to the cumulative totals, despite being reported by the same agency in the same reports.
The delta variant continues to surge, accounting for the majority of cases across the U.S., roughly 83% of cases nationwide, according to Dr. Rochelle Walensky, Director of the CDC.
As the federal government spars with DeSantis over masks, case numbers, and vaccinations, the CDC reports that Florida remains a large portion of new cases in the U.S.
The agency’s community transmission rankings show the whole state as in the red, meaning a “high” level of COVID spread in all 67 Florida counties. In the past three days on record, the CDC reports that from Aug. 11 to Aug. 13, Florida had nearly 75,000 cases, with Aug. 13 at the highest of the three days and showing a total of 25,991 new cases just that one day.
Rising numbers of COVID-positive Floridians and a lower vaccination rate in the state have led to hospital staff burnout. The governor continues to fight back against any mask mandates or additional COVID-19 restrictions, even participating in a feud with President Joe Biden over the restrictions.
The latest COVID-19 report by the Florida Hospital Association, released Aug. 13, says that only 8.8% of ICU beds for adults are available, and only 14.4% of inpatient beds are open.
Compared to the previous peak of cases on July 23, 2020 according to the FHA, the current statewide levels are equal to 152% of that 2020 peak.
Right now, the FHA report shows 15,441 patients were hospitalized with COVID-19. More recent numbers have not yet been released.