Florida Tops Previous COVID Hospitalization Record by Over 1,100

Florida tops its previous record of hospitalized COVID-19 patients by over 1,100, the Associated Press reported.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released Tuesday that Florida hospitals had 11,515 COVID-19 patients, an increase from the previous record from the day before of 10,389.

The Florida Hospital Association used the data to track admissions and staffing shortages. The figures show that 2,400 of their COVID-19 patients are in intensive care units.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

COVID-19 Hospitalizations in Florida
The number of patients in Florida hospitals increased by over 1,100 from the previous day in a report released on Tuesday. Above, people wait to receive a COVID-19 test at a pop-up testing location on July 26 in Miami. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The new number breaks a previous record for current hospitalizations set more than a year ago before vaccines were available. Last year, Florida hit its previous peak on July 23, with 10,170 hospitalizations.

Hospitals around the state report having to put emergency room visitors in beds in hallways and others document a noticeable drop in the age of patients.

A South Florida school district that voted last week to require facial coverings when in-person learning resumes this month now says it will comply with Governor Ron DeSantis' executive order preventing mask mandates in schools, rather than enforce the recommendation of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"Broward County Public Schools intends to comply with the Governor's latest Executive Order,'' says the district statement, released Monday afternoon.

With coronavirus caseloads surging as the much more contagious Delta Variant spreads infections, the board unanimously voted last week to require students, teachers and staff—even those who are vaccinated—to wear facial coverings inside schools when classes begin August 18.

Broward's board took the action last week in response to the latest science on the virus, which suggests that while vaccinated people are extremely unlikely to be hospitalized or die from COVID-19, they can still spread infection among those who haven't had their shots. This revelation prompted the CDC to issue new guidance, recommending "universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status."

The Republican governor then signed an order empowering the state's Board of Education to withhold funding from districts that enforce a mask mandate. DeSantis said he wants parents to decide whether their children should wear a mask to school. He also claimed the outbreak is seasonal, caused by people gathering indoors to avoid Florida's heat and humidity.

In fact, Florida now leads the nation in per capita hospitalizations for COVID-19. On Monday, Florida had 10,389 new COVID-19 hospitalizations, according to the hospital association. That's almost 200 more than Sunday, when the state broke the previous record set on July 23, 2020, more than a half-year before vaccinations started becoming widespread. It then had 10,170 hospitalizations.

"Unfortunately, Dade and Broward County lead the nation in hospitalizations," Broward County Mayor Steve Geller said Monday. "The numbers are doubling every 10 or 11 days. Geometric progression. This is horrifying."

A law DeSantis signed in May gives him power to invalidate local emergency public health measures, including mask mandates and limitations on business operations. It also bans any business or government entity from requiring proof of vaccination.

The Broward district now says it will encourage, but not require, students age 12 and older, as well as teachers and staff to get vaccinated. It will also encourage the use of facial coverings.

"Safety remains our highest priority," the district's statement said.

COVID-19 Florida Hospitalizations
Federal health officials say Florida has reported 21,683 new cases of COVID-19, the state's highest one-day total since the start of the pandemic. The state has become the new national epicenter for the virus, accounting for around a fifth of all new cases in the U.S. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has resisted mandatory mask mandates and vaccine. Above, a group waits to get a COVID-19 test, July 31, in North Miami, Florida. Marta Lavandier/Associated Press