Florida breaks last year’s pre-vaccine record of coronavirus hospitalizations, as Gov. Ron DeSantis forbids mask mandates
Florida broke its year-old record for COVID hospitalizations Sunday, with the number topping 10,000 for the first time since last July before vaccines became available.
Across the state, the number of people hospitalized for COVID was 10,207, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said. On July 23, 2020, there were 10,170 people in the hospital with confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus.
The new record came just two days after Florida recorded its highest number of new cases, with 21,683, marking the most infections in a single day since the start of the pandemic, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Saturday.
That figure rose from 17,093 new daily cases just the day before.
Florida now has the dubious distinction of having the highest per capita rate of both hospitalizations and infections in the nation, according to University of South Florida associate professor of epidemiology Jason Salemi.
As elsewhere in the U.S., new infections are predominantly fueled by the highly transmissible delta variant of the virus, even as the state resumes its pre-pandemic activity level as if the scourge is over. Given that, “the recent rise is both striking and not at all surprising,” Salemi said.
At the same time, Gov. Ron DeSantis has forbidden schools and other institutions to mandate masks, saying that parents have the freedom of choice to determine whether their children need to cover their face. On Friday, he signed an executive order reaffirming parental rights, flying in the face of a new CDC recommendation that everyone inside K-12 schools should be masked.
“The federal government has no right to tell parents that in order for their kids to attend school in person, they must be forced to wear a mask all day, every day,” he said in a statement. “Many Florida schoolchildren have suffered under forced masking policies, and it is prudent to protect the ability of parents to make decisions regarding the wearing of masks by their children.”