As Florida continues to battle one of the worst surges of coronavirus cases in the US, official numbers released on Tuesday show that the state’s hospitals are struggling to cope with the influx of Covid-19 patients.
The data, which comes from the state health authority, show that more than four dozen of Florida’s hospitals have now hit full intensive care capacity, while more than 30 are at 90 per cent capacity. And in just the last few days, the statewide percentage of ICU beds available has dropped from 20 per cent to 17 per cent.
The same day the new figures were announced, governor Ron DeSantis announced at a press conference he is extending Florida’s state of emergency, which he first imposed in March.
Despite increasing pressure from the media and the public, Florida is one of the few states that does not release data on the rate of hospitalisations among confirmed Covid-19 cases. At his press conference, Mr DeSantis declined to answer questions on the subject.
The confirmation of near-overwhelming pressure on intensive care units follows an alarming month where Florida’s case numbers broke state records many times over.
On 4 July, Florida reported a record daily number of confirmed cases, with 11,458 – and while the number has fallen since then, the intervening holiday weekend is expected to have slowed down new tests and reports.
With more than 213,700 cases in total, Florida has so far confirmed 3,841 Covid-19 deaths. Having initially defied predictions of becoming the next New York in the spring, the state began steadily reopening its economy in May – but by mid-June, its ongoing spike in cases had begun.
Some counties are now taking steps to roll back the reopening unilaterally, including Miami-Dade, which has this week closed down indoor dining at restaurants.
Florida is not the only state where health systems are under severe strain. Among others are Texas, where more than 9,000 Covid-19 positive people are currently hospitalised, and Arizona, where officials have confirmed only 10 per cent of ICU beds remain free.
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