Florida Becomes First State to Overtake Winter COVID Death Figures

Florida has become the first state in the U.S. to currently be experiencing more COVID-19 deaths than during its previous winter peak.

The state is already breaking new records after it logged 1,486 deaths among residents over the past week from August 13 to 19, its highest ever total figure and more than any other state, according to The Palm Beach Post citing U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.

The Johns Hopkins University tracker states that their figure of 1,486 average daily deaths recorded between August 15 and 21 is a record high for Florida.

The New York Times COVID tracker also shows that Florida is currently experiencing more average seven-day COVID deaths and hospitalizations than at any other period during the pandemic.

Vincent Rajkumar, a professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, noted that Florida is currently the only state where daily deaths in the current wave have exceeded the previous ones in a tweet on August 22.

Florida becomes first US state where the daily deaths in current wave have exceeded previous waves. pic.twitter.com/xK9UK2don8

— Vincent Rajkumar (@VincentRK) August 22, 2021

In a follow-up tweet explaining why this may be occurring, Rajkumar wrote: "Some not in our direct control: delta variant. Some in our control: 50% fully vaccinated is simply not enough. Relaxing mask requirements and preventing mask mandates is not good policy."

Rajkumar added that people should not blame vaccines not working as a reason for the rise of death rates in Florida, noting that rates have significantly fallen in countries such as the U.K. and Iceland despite a surge of new COVID cases as the Delta variant spreads.

Rajkumar also hit out at Florida Governor Ron DeSantis' scrapping of mask mandates in schools as cases soared in the state.

"What's different in Florida is that relative to the vaccination rate (~50%) the relaxation of distancing and masking was disproportionately high," Rajkumar tweeted. "Leaders expressed disdain for masks and mask mandates. The total number of people unvaccinated is high. And hospitals got overwhelmed.

"And of course this is happening exactly when it shouldn't: when delta is at its peak. Familiar? Yes. We have seen this before. We just didn't quite think it will happen in a vaccine rich, resource rich state in 2021."

According to a recent study, several other states may soon see their COVID-related deaths exceed the peak seen in early 2021 if current social distancing behaviors and vaccination rates remain unchanged.

The analysis published on the preprint server medRxiv, suggests the U.S could see further 157,000 COVID-related deaths between August 1 and December 31, including 20,700 delta-related deaths in Texas, 16,000 in California, and 12,000 in North Carolina.

"These projections should serve as a warning sign, especially in states that could have higher daily COVID-19 deaths than their previous peaks," said lead author Jagpreet Chhatwal, associate director of Massachusetts General Hospital's Institute for Technology Assessment and an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School.

"We also hope that our projections can help policymakers bring back mask mandates and further advocate for COVID-19 vaccines."

florida covid deaths
(File photo) medic transfers a patient on a stretcher from an ambulance outside of Emergency at Coral Gables Hospital where coronavirus patients are treated in Coral Gables near Miami, Florida on December 10, 2020. Florida has become the first state in the U.S. to currently be experiencing more COVID-19 deaths than during the previous winter peak. CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP/Getty Images