NORTHWEST MIAMI-DADE, FLA. (WSVN) - New data from the White House Coronavirus Task Force highlights the extent of Florida’s skyrocketing summer surge when compared to the rest of the country.
Meanwhile, Broward County officials announced they have launched a new dashboard to keep track of COVID-related hospitalizations.
White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Jeffrey Zients provided sobering statistics about the Sunshine State on Thursday.
“In the past week, Florida has had more COVID cases than all 30 states with the lowest case rate combined,” he said.
The numbers underscore the reality that Florida’s summer surge is worsening. COVID-19 cases continue to increase, and while there are some breakthrough cases, the majority of peope diagnosed with the illness are unvaccinated.
“Unvaccinated folks are being hospitalized and dying as a result of not being vaccinated,” said President Joe Biden.
On July 5, transmission rates were mostly manageable across the country, but come early August, the delta variant had already spread like wildfire.
On Thursday, Florida reported nearly 25,000 cases of the virus.
Now the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration are soon expected to recommend immunocompromised Americans receive a booster shot.
“FDA is working with Pfizer and Moderna to allow boosters for these vulnerable people,” said CDC Director Rochelle Walensky. “An additional dose could help increase protection for these individuals, which is especially important as the delta variant spreads.”
As of Thursday, more than 15,000 Floridians were in the hospital with the virus, and nearly half of every intensive care unit bed in the state had a COVID-19 patient in it.
“The staffing has been really the biggest issue that we’ve dealt with throughout the whole pandemic,” said Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
DeSantis said his office is working to bring more healthcare workers to the state, while he reconsiders how the Florida Department of Health will release COVID metrics.
“In terms of the breaking it down by county, that may not be a bad idea going forward,” he said.
The governor’s comments come as Broward officials said they have collected data from area hospitals on a daily basis for the past week and have compiled the information for a public-facing dashboard. Called the Broward County COVID-19 Hospital Report, it aims to help identify trends and allocate resources.
“By collecting data consistently from all local hospitals and consolidating it to create a picture of activity in the entire community, we can better track resources, identify shortages and appropriately respond,” said Broward County Mayor Steve Geller.
And, as schools start to make plans for the fall, districts plan to impose mask mandates to help keep students safe.
Biden thanked those who put science before politics.
“To the mayors, school superintendents, educators, local leaders, for standing up to the governor’s politicizing mask protection for our kids, thank you,” he said.
CDC officials said they will meet with the FDA on Friday to discuss the booster shots and determine who will be eligible and when they should start to receive the medication.
Broward officials said the first dashboard report will be issued Thursday, and subsequent reports will be released every weekday as of 11 a.m. on the day of reporting.
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