The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has counted 50,811 deaths after adding more than 1,500 COVID-19 deaths provided by the state health department on Thursday. These reported deaths have occurred on different dates over the past few weeks. Florida has the 11th worst per capita death rate among the 50 states, according to the CDC. New Jersey, Mississippi and New York had the worst, but Florida fell from 17th place in the past two weeks.
Overall, about one in 400 Florida residents who were alive in March 2020 have since died from COVID-19. Only cancer and heart disease killed more Floridians during that time, according to statistics from the state’s health department. These each killed around 70,000 Floridians.
Governor Ron DeSantis spoke darkly when asked to exceed 50,000 deaths from COVID-19 at a press conference in Fort Lauderdale promoting the use of monoclonal antibodies, a treatment for them. people infected with the disease which reduces deaths and hospitalizations if administered early.
“It’s been a very difficult year and a half,” DeSantis said.
Younger and healthier people
The Republican governor, who has advocated against the mask and vaccine warrants, said the most recent wave, which began in June, has hit younger and healthier people. Many police and firefighters have died from the disease.
“It affects families in a way we’re not used to, so it’s been really, really hard,” DeSantis said. Of about fifty people present at the press conference, DeSantis was the only one who did not wear a mask when he was not speaking. He promoted vaccination and was vaccinated, but did not receive his vaccine publicly as many elected officials did.
Epidemiologists say the state’s vaccination rates have exceeded the national average, but that was not enough to keep the highly contagious variant at bay due to its disproportionate elderly population and low vaccination rates among younger groups with which they interact.
On a per capita basis, rural and semi-rural counties in central and northern Florida have been the hardest hit. Most of these counties have vaccination rates that are equal to or lower than the national average of 63% for residents aged 12 and over. Florida counts a person as vaccinated if they have received at least one dose, although the Pfizer and Moderna versions both require two doses to be fully effective.
Monroe County, which is made up primarily of the Florida Keys, has recorded the fewest per capita deaths – one per 1,115 residents and one of the highest vaccination rates. Another tourist mecca, Orange County, home to Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando, had the third lowest number of deaths per capita.
Alachua County, home to the University of Florida, and Leon County, home to the state capital Tallahassee and Florida State University, were the second and fourth least lethal places .
Now, weeks after the peak in infections, the state has seen a sharp drop in hospitalizations and infections. The number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals finally fell below 10,000 on Thursday with 9,917 patients, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services. That number rose to over 17,000 on August 23.
The number of new cases per day is now 12,200 on average, up from 21,700 in mid-August.
Deaths are expected to continue to rise in late August and early September due to the way they are recorded in Florida and delays in reporting.