In the Sunshine State, 10,207 people were hospitalized with confirmed COVID-19 cases, according to data reported to the US Department of Health and Human Services.
The previous record was from July 23, 2020, when there were 10,170 hospitalizations in Florida, more than half a year before vaccination became widespread, according to the Florida Hospital Association.
Florida is now leading the nation in hospitalizations per capita for COVID-19, as reports of emergency room visitors at state hospitals over beds in hallways and others document a noticeable decline in the age of patients.
In the past week, Florida has averaged 1,525 adult hospitalizations, and 35 daily pediatric hospitalizations. Both have the highest per capita rates in the country, according to Jason Salemi, an associate professor of epidemiology at the University of South Florida.
Hospitalizations and rising cases come as new, more communicable Delta variants spread across Florida, and residents return to pre-pandemic activities.
“The recent increase is shocking and not surprising at all,” Salemi said in an email late Saturday.
Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has opposed mandatory mask mandates and vaccine requirements, and along with the state legislature, limited the ability of local officials to impose restrictions to stem the spread of COVID-19. DeSantis on Friday barred school districts from requiring students to wear masks when classes resume next month.
Florida’s Democratic Agriculture Commissioner, Nikki Fried, who is seeking to run against DeSantis for governor, on Sunday urged unvaccinated Floridians to get shots. He said he is excited about the recent immunization boom in the state.
“We are already behind the curve and are in a worse position every time the numbers come out. This boom will affect every single one of us,” Fried said at a news conference in Tallahassee.
Across Florida, from Jacksonville to Miami to Tampa, hospitals have been overwhelmed.
Pinellas County Administrator Barry Burton told the Tampa Bay Times that some local hospitals are already having to divert ambulances to different locations because of capacity concerns.
There has been an astonishing increase in the number of children in Miami hospitals with the virus, many of whom are in need of intensive care.
There were seven patients with COVID-19 at Memorial Health’s Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital in Hollywood. At Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami, there were 17 patients with COVID-19 on Friday, including six in the ICU and one in need of a ventilator, Dr. Marcos Mestre, vice president and chief medical officer, told the Miami Herald.
About half of the patients were under the age of 12, Mestre said, and the rest were older and eligible for the vaccine. But no COVID-19 patients were vaccinated at Nicklaus Children’s on Friday. Mestre said most children who get COVID-19 do not need to be hospitalized.
In the state capital, the COVID-19 hospital at Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare reached 70 patients on Sunday, a jump of 11 in two days.
“It’s the highest we’ve ever seen,” hospital spokeswoman Stephanie Derzypolski told the Tallahassee Democrat.
Mayo Clinic Hospital in Jacksonville said it had exceeded its capacity of 304 licensed beds due to COVID-19 cases and asked the agency for health care administration permission to operate more capacity until the current surge ends. has been sought, First Coast News in Jacksonville reported Sunday.
In the emergency room of UF Health North Hospital in Jacksonville, COVID-19 patients were once again being bedded in hallways as visits increased.
For many hospital workers, until a month ago, it seemed like there was light at the end of the tunnel, as people were vaccinated and the number of hospitalizations dropped. But then a summer boom powered by the new Delta version hit Florida in July.
“In this case that light became a train,” Marsha Tittle, a nursing manager at UF Health North, told The Florida Times Union. “We’re taking on more patients than usual. … My staff is amazing. You get out there, they’ve got a smile on their face and they’re doing a great job. But there’s a feeling of defeat, like They just lost.”
This story has been corrected to reflect that hospitalizations broke the 10,000-person limit, not the 1,000-person limit.