Florida, Texas Account for More Than 30 Percent of U.S. COVID Deaths in Past Three Months

Florida and Texas have accounted for over 30 percent of U.S. COVID-19 deaths since mid-June, helping to bring the total nationwide toll to more than 700,000.

The U.S. reached its latest grim milestone in just a little over three months, bringing the death toll from 600,000 to 700,000 on Friday. During that time period, Florida and Texas recorded the most amount of coronavirus deaths in the country as the Delta variant ravaged through both states.

The virus has killed around 17,000 residents in Florida since the middle of June, while over 13,000 deaths have been reported in Texas. Together, the two states make up 15 percent of the U.S. population, but over 30 percent of total deaths during that time period, according to the Associated Press.

Both states are led by Republican governors who have vehemently pushed back against COVID-19 mandates for masks or vaccinations. Among other things, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has threatened local governments with fines if they try to impose vaccine mandates, while Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued an executive order levyingpenalties on local officials who initiate mask requirements.

Florida, Texas COVID-19 Deaths
Florida and Texas account for more than 30 percent of U.S. coronavirus deaths over the past three months. Here, medics transfer a COVID-19 patient on a stretcher from an ambulance outside of Emergency at Coral Gables Hospital near Miami, Florida, on August 16, 2021. CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP/Getty Images

On Saturday, a spokesperson from DeSantis' office defended Florida's coronavirus response, and instead pointed fingers at President Joe Biden's leadership.

"Last year, Joe Biden promised Americans that if elected president, he would 'shut down the virus.' But 8 months into Biden's presidency, so far the national COVID death toll for 2021 has exceeded the entire COVID death toll for 2020. Why is the national media focused on Texas and Florida alone, when the majority of COVID deaths happened in other states, and Biden is the president of the entire country?," the DeSantis spokesperson told Newsweek.

"Today, Florida has one of the lowest COVID infection rates in the country, and the Delta surge has declined dramatically without imposing mandates or lockdowns," they added.

Newsweek also contacted Abbott for comment but did not hear back in time for publication.

Both Florida and Texas now average over 200 COVID-19 deaths a day, according to data from The New York Times. Throughout the summer, both states experienced some of the highest national rates for cases, hospitalizations and deaths. However, over the past two weeks, Florida and Texas have each seen their caseloads dip by at least 30 percent, with hospitalizations dropping by at least 22 percent.

On average, more than 6,000 people are now hospitalized daily in Florida, while more than 10,000 are hospitalized in Texas.

Dr. David Dowdy, an infectious disease epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said on Friday that at least 70,000 of the latest 100,000 U.S. deaths have been among unvaccinated people.

"If we had been more effective in our vaccination, then I think it's fair to say, we could have prevented 90 percent of those deaths" since mid-June, Dowdy told the AP. "It's not just a number on a screen. It's tens of thousands of these tragic stories of people whose families have lost someone who means the world to them."

In total, daily U.S. deaths are averaging about 1,900 a day, with cases starting to fall from their initial September highs. However, health care experts have warned that the winter months could result in new outbreaks as people will be more inclined to socialize indoors.

"I do still think this winter will probably see, in some parts of the country, similar scenarios to what we saw in parts of the southeastern U.S. this summer, wherein some regions hospitals will be very full," Stephen Kissler, a research fellow at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said during an interview earlier this week.