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Despite Sunday dip, experts believe COVID-19 hospitalizations will keep climbing in Florida

'It's just incredibly difficult to predict,' FHA President Mary Mayhew says
Posted at 9:00 AM, Aug 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-17 09:00:45-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Despite a small decrease in COVID-19 hospitalizations over the weekend, Florida isn't likely peaking, experts said Monday.

The Sunday dip was the first in about two weeks. The Florida Hospital Association reported a drop of 110 patients to 15,630. Monday's update subsequently showed a gain of 26 hospitalizations to 15,656.

While any reduction was positive news for officials, Association President Mary Mayhew warned COVID cases still rose on Sunday.

"[There were] nearly 26,000 new, positive cases yesterday," she said. "The timing of that means that within about 10 days, we will see increased hospitalizations as a result."

It comes as hospitals are already strained by a busier than normal summer and staff shortages nationwide.

The latest FHA survey found nearly 67 percent of Florida facilities expected a critical staff shortage this week. About 29 percent were preparing to expand patients into non-care areas.

"We all are optimistic with that, within the next seven to 14 days, we might start to see a case plateau that would then lead to ultimately plateauing in hospitalizations," Mayhew said. "It's just incredibly difficult to predict."

Dr. Mary Mahew, Florida Hospital Association
Dr. Mary Mahew speaks about the hospital bed situation in Florida amid the surge in COVID-19 cases.

The good news is that new Centers for Disease Control data showed Florida had achieved full vaccination of more than half its population.

Physicians hope to see those numbers continue to climb, giving the delta variant fewer patients to infect and more Floridians protection against serious illness.

"The only people who lose are those that do not follow the infection control practices and don't get the vaccine," said Dr. Frederick Southwick, a Gainesville infectious disease specialist. "Ninety-four percent of our hospitalizations are those that are unvaccinated."

Southwick is one of 800 physicians who recently wrote a letter to the governor, urging more state action against COVID-19.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has increased access to monoclonal therapies -- but continues to resist vaccine requirements and mask mandates, defending individual choice.