MIAMI – More than 73,000 new COVID-19 cases were reported in the past week in Florida, which is over three times the number of new cases from two weeks ago.
The state’s new case positivity rate also surged to 15.1%, continuing a steady rise over the past month that has infectious disease experts, hospitals and local leaders concerned.
“It’s going to come to a point where we’re not going to be able to take care of all these people that are unvaccinated,” said Dr. Joshua Lenchus, the chief medical officer at Broward Health. “Variants will continue to occur. More people will die.”
Florida’s new cases and positivity rate have both increased each of the past five weeks, according to the newest data released by the state health department Friday.
The 73,199 new cases in the past week computes to an average of 10,457 per day. Five weeks ago, that’s about how many new cases the state was seeing in a week. Miami-Dade, the state’s most populous county, had by far the most new cases with 11,104.
The latest data reflects the period of July 16-22. Florida ended its daily COVID-19 reports last month and now releases weekly metrics on Fridays. (The full report can be seen at the bottom of this page.)
The state report says there were 78 new deaths connected to COVID-19 in the past week, but their cumulative total for fatalities actually reflects an increase of 282.
The state data doesn’t illustrate what percentage of the new cases are people who have been vaccinated, but the major South Florida hospital systems tell Local 10 News that over 90% of the COVID-positive patients admitted at their facilities did not get vaccines.
Throughout the Jackson Health System, 171 people are hospitalized with COVID-19 — up from 122 a week ago. Chief Medical Officer Dr. Hany Atallah said that while the vast majority of those patients are unvaccinated, there has been an increase in vaccinated patients with compromised immune systems, such as those with organ transplants.
“We have seen an increase in our patients who are immunosuppressants coming into the hospital who have been vaccinated who are infected as well,” Atallah said.
Lenchus said Broward Health is seeing a similar trend.
Florida for two weeks in a row accounted for one in five of all new cases nationwide, according to the White House.
“I think people are visiting Florida, so I think that combined with the unmasking bars, and restaurants being more crowded, I think that has probably led to a significant portion of it,” Atallah said. “That’s my suspicion.”
The White House noted Thursday that vaccinations had begun to rise in some states where COVID-19 cases are surging, including Florida.
National coronavirus coordinator Jeff Zients said several states with the highest proportions of new infections have seen residents get vaccinated at higher rates than the nation as a whole, with Florida, Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri and Nevada cited as examples.
However, Florida reported 245,954 vaccine doses administered this week, which is nearly 10,000 fewer than the previous week.
Of Florida’s eligible population (ages 12 and older), 60% of people are vaccinated, the state says. That’s one percentage point higher than a week ago.
Miami-Dade (76%), Broward (68%), Monroe (69%) and Palm Beach (64%) counties all have higher vaccination rates than the state average.
Republican leaders have made a noticeable push for members of their party to get COVID-19 vaccines in recent days. A recent ABC News poll illustrated the political gulf between the vaccinated: 86% of Democrats, 45% of Republicans.
Lenchus told Local 10 that several COVID-19 patients they are treating have expressed regret about not getting vaccinated or wearing masks in large gatherings.
With the Rolling Loud music festival bringing tens of thousands of hip-hop fans to South Florida this weekend, he’s issuing a common-sense warning.
“If you’re going to that concert, and you’re unvaccinated,” Lenchus said, “you’re really rolling the dice if you’re going to be there without a mask on.”
For information on where COVID-19 vaccines are available in South Florida, click here.
VIEW THIS WEEK’S FULL REPORT BELOW: