75 Percent of Florida Hospitals Could Reach Critical Staffing Shortages in Seven Days

Seventy-five percent of Florida's hospitals are expected to reach critical staffing shortages in the next seven days, according to a survey of hospitals by the Florida Hospital Association (FHA).

The new projection is an 8.7 percent increase from last week and shows how the growing number of coronavirus cases across the state is taking a massive toll on its hospital systems.

With 29 percent of Florida's hospitals expected to expand into non-care areas to accommodate COVID-19 patients, only 14.2 percent of inpatient beds were available as of Tuesday.

"There can be no question that many Florida hospitals are stretched to their absolute limits," FHA President and CEO Mary Mayhew said in a press release.

She continued, "While hospitalizations continue to increase, three out of four Florida hospitals expect to face critical staff shortages in the next seven days, an increase of nearly ten percent since last week, and half of our hospitals will no longer accept transfer patients from other facilities."

The survey, conducted on Monday, reflects responses from hospitals representing 83 percent of Florida's acute care hospital beds.

The latest figures indicate that Florida's hospitals are continuing to face capacity problems as the virus's Delta variant sweeps across the state and roughly 40 percent of the state's population remains unvaccinated.

As of Monday, Florida—with only 6.5 percent of the U.S. population—accounted for 19.1 percent of the current COVID-19 hospitalizations across the nation, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Florida Hospital Critical Shortage Coronavirus Delta
Only 14.2 percent of Florida's inpatient beds were available on Tuesday, according to the Florida Hospital Association. Above, health care workers during a COVID-19 vaccination event in Miami on August 5. Chandan Khanna/AFP

Florida—as well as Louisiana and Mississippi—has been particularly hit hard by the recent surge in coronavirus cases spurred by the highly transmissible Delta variant.

On Monday, Governor Ron DeSantis addressed the escalating crisis in Florida's hospitals, saying that reducing admissions must be "a top priority" for the state. But the governor has continued to resist calls to enforce mask mandates and other safety measures to help contain the outbreak in Florida.

In May, DeSantis permanently blocked local officials from enacting new COVID-19 restrictions after lifting all existing measures. Later, in July, he issued an executive order blocking mask mandates in Florida's schools.

Since then, the state has experienced the highest rate of children's COVID-19 hospitalizations across the country. A possible outbreak in Hillsborough County has forced more than 8,000 students and school staff in the district to isolate or quarantine.

In an effort to help the state respond to the record-breaking number of COVID-19 hospitalizations, the federal government sent 200 ventilators and 100 small breathing devices and related supplies to Florida last week.