Florida’s COVID Hospitalizations Surge as DeSantis Administration Advises Against New Boosters

Florida’s Covid-19 hospitalizations have surged to a post-pandemic record. Amid this crisis, Governor Ron DeSantis and his surgeon general’s controversial warning against COVID-19 booster shots has sparked intense debate and concern within the medical community.

COVID-19 Hospitalizations

Florida has emerged as the nation’s leader in COVID-related hospitalizations, and Governor Ron DeSantis’ administration is facing mounting controversy over its stance on COVID-19 booster shots.

At a time when the state grapples with a surge in hospital admissions, the decision by DeSantis’ hand-picked surgeon general, Joseph Ladapo, to discourage those under 65 from receiving mRNA boosters has drawn sharp criticism from the medical community.

As of the week ending on September 9th, Florida’s hospitalization rate stood at 10.65 per 100,000 residents, surpassing Washington, D.C., and Arkansas.

Unsettling Statistic

This unsettling statistic translates to approximately 2,280 individuals hospitalized for Covid-related health issues in the Sunshine State.

While this figure is notably lower than the pandemic’s peak in the summer of 2021, when Florida recorded over 10,000 hospitalizations, it nonetheless signifies a concerning upward trend.

Ladapo delivered his announcement against COVID-19 boosters during an online roundtable discussion hosted by Governor DeSantis.

Vaccine Skepticism

His stance, characterized by skepticism towards vaccines, runs counter to the recommendations put forth by health bodies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

CDC Director Mandy Cohen swiftly responded to Ladapo’s remarks, emphasizing the safety and efficacy of vaccines.

She underscored the crucial role that vaccination plays in preventing severe illness and hospitalizations, particularly as the winter season approaches.

Cohen’s statement was a resounding defense of the Covid-19 vaccination efforts undertaken by the administration.

Analyzing the Data

Jaye Williams, spokesperson for the Florida Department of Health, defended Ladapo’s guidance, asserting that it was grounded in data analysis.

Williams pointed to state reports indicating a continuous decline in Covid-19 infections across Florida.

According to these reports, the rate of new infections fell by 4 percent to 16 percent in the week ending on September 9th.

Complex Contradictions 

However, the impact of Ladapo’s guidance on Florida’s evolving Covid situation remains uncertain.

Virologist Michael Teng, the associate dean at the University of South Florida, shed light on the complexity of the situation.

Teng noted that a substantial proportion of hospitalized individuals in Florida were aged 65 or older, a demographic Ladapo did not advise against receiving booster shots.

This contradiction highlights the discord between the surgeon general’s recommendations and the broader medical consensus.

Elderly Should Be Priority

Teng remarked, “If it were just about prioritizing the elderly, the more at-risk population, that would be one thing. But the surgeon general has actively gone and told people not to get the shot if you’re below 65, even though the CDC has recommended it for everybody in the United States.”

As Florida faces the challenging reality of leading in COVID-related hospitalizations, the clash between state leadership and medical experts highlights the importance of evidence-based public health policies.

With winter looming, the nation watches closely to see how the state’s response to an upsurge in COVID cases may impact the broader national fight.

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Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Juli Hansen

Source: Politico