Florida virus cases soar, hospitals near last summer's peak
MIAMI (AP) — Hospital admissions of coronavirus patients continue to soar in Florida with at least two areas in the state surpassing the previous peaks of last summer's surge, prompting calls by local officials for the governor to declare an emergency.
A large hospital system in Jacksonville said its hospitals were at maximum capacity, its emergency centers also at a critical point as the state grappled with the new and more infectious delta variant of the COVID-19 virus.
In Brevard County, two hospitals began setting up treatment tents at its emergency departments. And at a Fort Lauderdale park, a long line of cars snaked around a testing site, recalling the first weeks of the pandemic last year.
Florida hospitals reported more than 8,900 patients with COVID-19 on Thursday, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Florida Hospital Association said the state peaked at 10,179 cases last July.
The patient number on Thursday was five times higher than a month ago, and it quickly climbed from a little less than 5,500 in just one week.
"What’s extraordinary is the speed at which we are currently seeing new cases,” said Dr. Vincent Hsu, executive director of infection prevention and hospital epidemiologist at AdventHealth in Orlando. “The slope is pretty steep, and we haven’t seen the end of it. This is still coming.”
The rapid rise in hospitalizations and cases has prompted officials in Miami-Dade and Orlando to issue new orders requiring masks at indoor county buildings. The mayor of Orange County, home to Walt Disney World, is forcing all nonunion county employees to get vaccinated by August.
And Walt Disney World also announced this week that it would again be requiring the use of masks indoors.
Just 48 percent of the state’s...