Some states are doing better than others when it comes to protecting themselves against COVID-19. Florida, which has been a vocal opponent of mask mandates, is among the states seeing its COVID numbers rise as the delta variant sweeps through the U.S. Cases have been rising so rapidly, in fact, that Florida is now seeing more COVID hospitalizations than it did before vaccines were available.
On Aug. 1, Florida broke a record it set more than five months before vaccines were approved for emergency use. On July 23, 2020, Florida set the initial record of 10,170 COVID hospitalizations. That record was broken nearly a year later when the state recorded 10,207 people hospitalized with confirmed COVID cases.
Vaccines have been widely available to the public for more than eight months.
Florida is currently leading the entire country in per capita COVID hospitalizations, according to the Associated Press. The state has averaged 1,525 adult hospitalizations per day for the previous seven days, with an average of 35 pediatric hospitalizations per day.
On July 30, 2021, Florida reported 21,683 new COVID cases. This is the highest one-day total the state has seen since the start of the pandemic, and the daily numbers are increasing rapidly in the Sunshine State, overwhelming area hospitals. In late July, Florida saw COVID case numbers increase by 50%.
The state is now responsible for 1 in 5 new COVID infections nationally, according to the Washington Post.
This comes less than a month after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) released a line of “Don’t Fauci my Florida” merchandise oriented around anti-masking rhetoric. Experts say Florida is currently the epicenter of the virus in the U.S.
“There is no higher risk area in the United States than we’re seeing here,” Aileen Marty, an infectious-disease expert at Florida International University, said in an interview with CBS Miami. “The numbers that we’re seeing are unbelievable, just unbelievably frightening.”