Florida COVID hospitalizations rising again after decline

Florida

(Nexstar DC photo)

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP/WFLA) — Florida’s COVID-19 hospitalization numbers are again increasing, ending months of steady decline that began when widespread vaccinations became available.

The new data has doctors and epidemiologists worried as the more infectious delta variant spreads. Tampa Bay doctors told 8 On Your Side this week that most new cases they’re seeing are the delta strain.

About 3,200 COVID patients are hospitalized in the state. That’s a jump of 73% since June 14.

Meanwhile, the number of vaccinations administered per week has fallen by almost 80% statewide since April. Less than 60% of the population 12 and older is fully vaccinated.

In Hillsborough County, the health department director said only about 45% of the eligible population is vaccinated.

“By now we should have more people vaccinated and it’s very concerning that so many people have chosen to not get vaccinated,” Dr. Douglas Holt said in a statement released Friday. “The vaccine is safe, effective and widely available. Most doctors have gotten vaccinated. We’ve encouraged our own families to get vaccinated. Your life or the life of someone you care about could be saved by getting vaccinated.”

Florida now has the fourth-highest per-capita hospitalization rate in the U.S., behind only Nevada, Missouri and Arkansas.

Almost all COVID deaths and hospitalizations nationally in recent weeks have been among the unvaccinated.

“It’s important to note that there is no evidence that the current vaccines are any less effective against the delta variant,” Dr. David Dowdy with Johns Hopkins Hospital said. “So even in places like the U.S. where the Delta variant has become the dominant strain, vaccines still work and work very well.”

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