MIAMI, Florida: One day after recording the highest number of new daily COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic, Florida, on Sunday, broke its previous record for current hospitalizations set more than a year ago before vaccines became available.
A total of 10,207 people were hospitalized with confirmed COVID-19, according to data reported to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The previous record of 10,170 hospitalizations was set on 23rd July, 2020, more than half a year before vaccinations began in the state, said the Florida Hospital Association.
Florida currently leads the country in terms of per capita hospitalizations for COVID-19, with local hospitals placing emergency patients on beds along hallways and some reporting a noticeable drop in the age of patients.
Over the past week, Florida averaged 1,525 adult hospitalizations per day, as well as 35 daily pediatric hospitalizations, the highest per capita nationally, said Jason Salemi, Associate Professor of Epidemiology at the University of South Florida.
The rise in hospitalizations and cases came with the spread of the new and more transmittable delta variant and the return to pre-pandemic activities of not wearing face masks or practicing social distancing.
"The recent rise is both striking and not surprising," Salemi added.
Federal health data released on Saturday showed that Florida reported 21,683 new coronavirus cases, its highest one-day total since the start of the pandemic.
Meanwhile, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has resisted mandatory mask mandates and vaccination requirements, and, along with the state legislature, prevented local officials from imposing restrictions to slow the spread of the virus. On Friday, he also barred school districts from requiring students to wear masks when classes resume next month.
On Sunday, Nikki Fried, Florida's Democratic Agriculture Commissioner, who plans to run for Governor against DeSantis, urged unvaccinated Florida residents to get their inoculations, stating she was heartened by the recent rise in vaccinations.
"We are already behind the curve and in a worse spot every time the numbers come out. This surge is and will impact every single one of us," Fried said at a news conference in Tallahassee.