Florida Faces its Worst Coronavirus Wave Yet
As the highly contagious Delta variant of the virus ravages the unvaccinated population in the United States, Florida is experiencing its highest number of cases and hospitalizations since the start of the pandemic.
But the state is still about a month away from its peak, according to an epidemiologist who had followed the scope of the virus there.
“In the short and long term, cases are going to explode,” Edwin Michael, professor of epidemiology at the University of South Florida, Tampa said Monday. “We expect cases to peak in the first week of September. There will be 68,000 new cases, four times the number of cases in January. “
Dr Michael is modeling coronavirus predictions statewide and in every county in Florida, and his team’s work is used by officials and hospitals to support pandemic plans and responses.
“Our simulations show that if we don’t slow hospitalizations, if we don’t prevent the coming wave of infections, we could exceed Florida’s bed capacity in early September.”
Over the past week, state hospitals reported an average of 1,525 adult hospitalizations and 35 pediatric hospitalizations per day. As of July 31, 10,593 people were hospitalized with confirmed cases of coronavirus in Florida, according to a New York Times database. The previous record was reached on July 22, 2020, with 12,282.
“We need a two-pronged approach,” said Dr Michael. “Get as many people vaccinated as possible, especially the pediatric population, but to avoid the waves ahead, we need to pair it with social distancing measures and face mask warrants.”
He lamented that it was too late for vaccinations – which take five weeks between the first dose and protection – to prevent the peak from coming, and he insisted that the only way to have a quick impact on the Labor Day wave was to have the extra protection measures.
“The next four weeks are going to be so crucial,” he said. “Schools and universities are reopening in Florida. It’s going to be a dangerous time to come. “
Vaccination rates have plunged since April. That, coupled with a collapse in the number of people taking precautions, allowed Delta to thrive. “Barely 5% practice social measures,” he said.
Gov. Ron DeSantis has opposed mandatory mask mandates and vaccine requirements and restricted the ability of local authorities to put in place measures that scientists say would stem the rising tide of cases of coronavirus.
Mr DeSantis on Friday banned school districts from forcing students to wear masks when classes begin next week, leaving parents to decide for themselves whether their children wear masks at school.
“In Florida there will be no lockdown,” DeSantis said. “There will be no school closures. There will be no restriction and no warrant.
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