Florida is experiencing growth in new COVID-19 cases after weeks of stabilization and apparent stagnation of the disease, following an intense vaccination campaign.
Faced with the rebound, local health officials and state governor Ron DeSantis are urging people to get vaccinated. In the state, until the report released on July 16, 59% of the population has been vaccinated.
In the last week, ended July 15, new positive cases totaled 45,603, according to the Florida Department of Health. This is an important jump from the 23,562 accumulated in the previous period and that had already meant growth compared to previous reports.
The positivity rate was 11.5%, above 10%, something that had not happened for more than 10 weeks at least.
This is the fourth week in a row of growth, although in the last two weeks of June that increase had been slight. In July, the first jump was from 15,998 cases to 23,562 in the week that ended on the 8th of this month.
In Miami-Dade and Broward, the positive rate has remained below 10% this time. Probably because of vaccination they are not among the counties with the highest positive rates. In Dade, the percentage of new positives for the last reported week was 7.4% and in Broward 8.1%.
A statistic released by the White House estimated that 20% of new cases occurred last week in Florida.
At a news conference Monday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said an increase in cases was expected in July as the virus follows a seasonal pattern, and stressed the importance of getting vaccinated.
“However, if you are vaccinated, the number of people who end up hospitalized is almost zero, it is incredible, incredibly low, so I think there is misinformation where someone will say ‘oh, these people were vaccinated and then they tested positive.” DeSantis said, as reported by NBC6.
“Understand, a positive test is not a clinical diagnosis of disease, so if you are vaccinated and you test positive but don’t get sick, the name of the game is to keep people out of the hospital.”
Specialists have warned about some factors to explain the upturn, such as the presence of the Delta variant, the flexibility of measures in public spaces, even for people who are not vaccinated; the number of people vaccinated, among others.
While most cases do not require hospitalization, doctors in South Florida are noting that people admitted to health centers are younger and those who have reached severe stages of the disease are mostly not vaccinated.
The Miami Herald newspaper reported that in the Jackson health system in Miami-Dade, internal data shows that the admissions of COVID patients between the ages of 30 and 40 were accelerating faster than those of those over 65.
Dr. Lilian Abbo, chief of infectious diseases at Jackson Memorial Hospital, said that whether younger or older, most of those who are very sick with COVID have never received a dose of vaccine.
“We are seeing some progressive infections, but most of the people who are very sick, who are at risk of dying … are the ones who are not vaccinated,” said Dr. Abbo.
“Even with mutations, even with variants, vaccines protect against serious disease and death,” the specialist recalled.