ORLANDO, Fla. — Fighting a renewing surge of COVID19 cases, state and federal leaders are once again urging Floridians to get vaccinated.
What You Need To Know
- Central Florida hospitals reporting a steady increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations
- In Florida, it’s estimated 47.9% of the total population is fully vaccinated
- Gov. DeSantis says the federal government has been too aggressive in pushing vaccines
- U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy says vaccine misinformation is a big problem
- RELATED: Getting a COVID-19 vaccine in Central Florida: What you need to know
- VIDEO: Watch Greg Angel's full interview with U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy in the player above
While the total number of COVID-related cases and hospitalizations are below the levels seen in January, the trend is turning.
“We have seen an increase in hospitalizations in Central Florida over the last few weeks, but we still have fewer COVID patients compared to the peak of about 900 in January,” AdventHealth told Spectrum News. “As of today, there are about 700 COVID patients at Advent Hospitals in Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Lake, Polk, Volusia and Flagler counties.”
Orlando Health said it too is seeing a “steady climb” in COVID patients.
“As of today, our hospitals report 294 in-house positive COVID patients, 31 of which are in the intensive care unit (ICU),” Orlando Health told Spectrum News. “On June 25, we reported 67 in-house positive COVID patients and six in the ICU. The rise we are now experiencing is not unexpected and attributed primarily to the large number of individuals who have not been vaccinated.”
While Orlando Health said 90% of their COVID-19 patients are not vaccinated, Gov. Ron DeSantis said 95% of patients being admitted to hospitals statewide are unvaccinated.
“The vast majority of cases and hospitalizations we’re seeing are among unvaccinated," said U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy. "And what we know across the country is that 99.9% of deaths from COVID are among the unvaccinated, so the message in Florida and the rest of the country remains the same: Vaccination is our best pathway out of this pandemic, the best pathway to protect yourself and your family.”
Data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows Florida is seeing 106% more COVID cases this week compared to last week.
Locally, Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings announced Monday that the county’s 14-day positivity rate now stands at 11.2%, which is triple what it was several weeks ago.
While vaccines have become political, there are bipartisan efforts to encourage more people to get a shot.
“These vaccines are saving lives, they are reducing mortality,” DeSantis said at a press event Wednesday in St. Petersburg.
"These vacines are saving lives"— Greg Angel (@NewsGuyGreg) July 21, 2021
In his most direct effort to encourage people to get vaccinated, Governor Ron DeSantis said 95% of the new COVID cases are those who are not vaccinated. pic.twitter.com/3RzHYEH1mI
Remarks Wednesday are among the governor’s most direct encouragement for vaccination in recent months.
“If you are vaccinated, fully vaccinated, the chance of you getting seriously ill or dying from COVID is effectively zero,” DeSantis said. “If you look at people being admitted to hospitals, over 95% of them are either not fully vaccinated or not vaccinated at all.”
U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy told me while overall COVID cases are down and vaccinations are UP -- the trend is turning in Florida.— Greg Angel (@NewsGuyGreg) July 21, 2021
There are bipartisan efforts to increase vaccinations, but Dr. Murthy says "misinformation" remains a tough fight.
Consider this: pic.twitter.com/yhiNyhCZHS
It’s estimated 49.2% of the entire U.S. population is fully vaccinated. In Florida, it’s estimated 47.9% of the total population is fully vaccinated, although DeSantis touts that older age groups have higher vaccination rates, including 85% of seniors 65+ and more than 75% of the 50+ population.
The Biden Administration set an initial goal of having at least 70% of the entire adult population vaccinated by the Fourth of July.
“The good news is, vaccine confidence is increasing ever since December," said Murthy. "It’s at its highest point right now."
According to Murthy, 70% of Americans have either now been vaccinated or say they will get vaccinated. The challenge remains among the 17% of those who say they don’t intend to get vaccinated at all.
“We know misinformation is one of the factors at play here,” Murthy said. “Two thirds of the people not vaccinated say they either believe common myths or they think they might be true."
"This is why we know we have a significant challenge to deal with misinformation," Murthy added.
DeSantis — who himself privately received the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine in April — said part of the vaccine hesitancy is that governments may be too aggressive in the effort for vaccination.
“We have no mandate, we’ve provided information to people and we’ve been very honest about any data that comes out,” DeSantis said.
“We don’t want to be making people feel bad about choices or heckling them or talking down to them,” Murthy said. “Everyone makes their decision for different reasons. What’s important to me is that people have accurate information, scientific-based information, so they can make the best decision for themselves and their families.”
Murthy said the nation has made strides in combating COVID-19 by increasing access to vaccines, but warns caution should not yet be thrown into the wind.
“We have to remember this pandemic is not over,” Murthy said. “We’ve been fooled in the past thinking cases are coming down, COVID is over, we can throw caution to the wind, but that’s not the case.
"We have made progress, we will get through this pandemic, we will get through it together, but we have to stay vigilant.”