The numbers at two University of Florida hospitals in Jacksonville are stark: a pandemic high of 140 hospitalized COVID patients, up from just 14 five weeks ago, and 90% of them unvaccinated. Doctors say another 5% of patients are partially vaccinated and the others are vaccinated but have "significant comorbidities" or were on immunosuppressant drugs, the New York Times reports. COVID hospitalization rates remain relatively low across the US, but in hotspots like northeast Florida and southwest Missouri, the combination of the highly infectious delta variant and low vaccination rates are causing hospitals to fill up faster than they did during previous waves of the pandemic, reports the Times. According to a leaked CDC document, the delta variant spreads more easily than the common cold.
Across the state, COVID hospitalizations hit 8,900 Thursday, up from 5,500 a week earlier, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. Last July, hospitalizations peaked at just over 10,000. "What’s extraordinary is the speed at which we are currently seeing new cases,” Dr. Vincent Hsu, hospital epidemiologist at AdventHealth in Orlando," tells the AP. "The slope is pretty steep, and we haven’t seen the end of it. This is still coming.” AdventHealth says around 1,000 COVID patients are hospitalized in its system across central Florida, the highest so far in the pandemic. Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings, one of numerous Florida officials bucking Gov. Ron DeSantis' opposition to coronavirus regulations, has declared a state of emergency, Politico reports. (Read more coronavirus stories.)