Local leaders critical of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis amid latest surge in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations

Nicklaus Children’s Hospital requiring all staff be vaccinated

Another record-breaking day for Florida in terms of new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations on Saturday continued sounding alarm bells for local medical experts.

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Another record-breaking day for Florida in terms of new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations on Saturday continued sounding alarm bells for local medical experts.

There were 23,903 new cases of COVID-19 that were reported on Saturday.

“My biggest fear is that we’ll have a variant of high consequence, which is one that’s worse than the delta variant, which is already horrible,” said FIU Infectious Disease Expert Dr. Aileen Marty. “It’s absolutely heartbreaking, and it’s particularly heartbreaking because so many of the patients are younger individuals.”

In Broward County, the need for hospital beds is rising significantly.

Nearly all of Broward Health’s 300 COVID-19 patients have not been vaccinated.

The main hospital auditorium in Fort Lauderdale has been converted to an overflow unit in order to help make room for everyone else.

“At this point, there’s still the people that are anti-vaccine,” said Broward Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Joshua Lenchus. “Frankly, there’s nothing that we can do about those people, no science is going to convince them.”

Broward Health System reported Sunday that there are 275 COVID-19 patients in their hospitals.

“Ninety-five percent of those that are unvaccinated are the ones that are here seeking medical help,” said Broward Health President and CEO Shane Strum. “Those who have been vaccinated that unfortunately end up here, have a shorter length of stay, they’re here for only a few days, and then after that the ones that hadn’t been vaccinated are here for many more days.”

In Miami-Dade County, a major announcement from Nicklaus Children’s Hospital to its staff, which read, in part:

“With the increasing number of adults and children in our community experiencing severe illness and hospitalization associated with the Delta Variant, our course of action is clear. We have notified staff that we are now requiring all employees to become fully vaccinated. "

Many workplaces are now requiring vaccines, but the state is making it tougher for mask mandates to be imposed.

Officials in Miami-Dade are so concerned about the highly contagious Delta Variant they are working to get more testing sites back up, all while encouraging the public to get vaccinated.

“At some point in time the virus is spreading so fast that contact tracing is behind, and you can’t catch up,” said Miami-Dade County Covid Adviser Jared Moskowitz. “The virus is spreading so fast that it’s difficult to keep up.”

On Sunday, another 87 hospitalizations due to COVID-19 were reported, bringing the state’s total number to 13,435.

Some local leaders have been very critical of Governor Ron DeSantis.

“He’s divided our community, so now mask usage, even vaccines, just simple healthy practices, have become political statements,” said Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber.

Gelber believes DeSantis is not taking the pandemic seriously and claims he is just trying to score political points.

“He’s playing politics right now in the middle of a pandemic,” said Gelber.

For information on where COVID-19 vaccines are available in South Florida, click here.

About the Authors:

Parker Branton joined Local 10 News in January 2019 as a reporter. He was born and raised in Rome, Georgia, but now loves living on the sunny beaches of South Florida.

Joseph Ojo joined Local 10 in April 2021. Born and raised in New York City, he previously worked in Buffalo, North Dakota, Fort Myers and Baltimore.