Florida accounts for 17% of U.S. COVID-19 patients amid record case numbers

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on Thursday, 17% of COVID-19 patients nationwide – nearly one in five – was being treated in Florida. The state reported a record 151,749 new cases over the last week – an average of nearly 21,700 per day – and 389 new deaths.

Friday's update from the Department of Health showed that new cases increased over the previous week while the number of vaccine doses declined slightly. The state's overall positivity rate dipped from 20.1% to 16.8%, though the largest Bay Area counties remained in the 20% range.

Statewide, hospital ICU beds are 95% occupied. Most of the patients are unvaccinated.

"The other problem is they’re forcing out other people who also need care. We hear about hospitals delaying elective surgeries," said Dr. Michael Teng, a public health expert at the University of South Florida.

Across Tampa Bay, doctors and nurses are under heavy stress. BayCare reports treating 1,100 COVID-19 patients across its 14 hospitals.  Tampa General is reporting 109 patients are in the ICU, which is more than 90% full.  Sarasota Memorial says 101 of its 118 ICU beds are full.

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"Right now, we're experiencing an unprecedented surge in volume," said Dr. Laura McGill. "Any time you’re having chest pains, shortness of breath, fever, these are big signs to get yourself to the emergency room."

Meanwhile, Gov. DeSantis has touted antibody treatments as a way to reduce hospital numbers for infected patients.  So far his office says around 13,000 people have used the experimental treatment.