Florida COVID-19 hospitalizations at lowest point in more than a year

COVID-19 hospitalizations reached their lowest point in more than a year, the Florida Hospital Association reported Thursday.

According to FHA, the state's hospitalizations have declined 19% in the last two weeks and are nearly 40 percent lower than they were a month ago. Hospitalizations peaked in July 2020.

"Vaccinations are up. New COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are down. It's that simple," Mary C. Mayhew, president and CEO of the Florida Hospital Association, said in a statement. "As the rest of the nation joins Florida in reopening, it is important to remember that getting vaccinated offers the best protection against COVID-19, nearly eliminating worries about whether someone else is vaccinated or not."

TODAY: 1,878 new Florida coronavirus cases reported Thursday; 49 new deaths

Florida new resident cases in orange; new resident deaths in gray. Note: Deaths usually appear to be trending down because of the delay in confirming the last few days of data. Source: Fla. Dept. of Health.

The statewide positivity rate from COVID-19 testing is less than 4%, which is down considerably from 6.16% at the beginning of May, according to FHA.

Dr. Thomas Unnasch, with USF Health, believes it's possible the pandemic could be mostly behind us by the July 4 weekend.

"Every three weeks, we're having about half as many cases as we did the previous three weeks," Dr. Unnasch said. "It's taken a lot of strain off of our hospital system, off of our medical system."

Dr. Unnasch echoed the data from FHA, saying vaccinations are driving down the numbers; roughly 50% of the state has received at least one dose.

"Herd immunity is not a switch," he said. "It's not like we're going to be going full blast and then all of a sudden it's just going to stop. What this is is much more like a forest fire burning itself out and as it runs out of fuel."

Unnasch is cautioning the public not to let down its guard. India's numbers have shot back up after reaching a low point earlier this year, creating a new variant and a new COVID-19 wave. He reiterated vaccinations are key to preventing that from happening in the U.S.