TALLAHASSEE, Florida – Gov. Ron DeSantis has drawn the nation’s attention for pitting federal health officials against the handling of the novel coronavirus, but a group of Florida doctors said on Thursday that pressure from the governor to reopen the state and block Precautions was the main reason for a sharp increase in the number of residents suffering from COVID-19.
Bernard Ashby, a Miami cardiologist and chief of the Florida section of the Committee to Protect Healthcare, said DeSantis should spend more time talking to people about the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines and less time talking to people about the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines. attack federal infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci in hopes of scoring political points.
“As our state’s hospitals filled up, DeSantis was screaming about ‘Freedom Against Falconism’,” said Ashby, who heads the group of 405 Florida doctors. “If DeSantis were as concerned with stopping the spread of COVID-19 as he was with coming up with these smart shots about Dr. Fauci, we might not be in this position. “
Ashby said DeSantis bragged about Florida’s approach to handling the pandemic, but accused the governor of being responsive and not having a plan to protect residents.
“As a doctor and a Floridian, I am frankly angry and ashamed. You know the Florida man’s nickname, unfortunately, is true in this particular circumstance, ”said Ashby, referring to the stereotype that people in Florida do weird or stupid things.
Christina Pushaw, spokesperson for DeSantis, said doctors are not well informed and cited the governor’s emphasis on vaccinating the elderly.
“The governor has made countless public appearances statewide to encourage vaccination, and he has spoken positively about vaccines in public remarks nearly 100 times this year,” Pushaw said in a statement to the News Service of Florida. . “He is proud of the successful deployment and the Seniors First strategy, which means that 85% of our most vulnerable population is vaccinated and thousands of lives are saved. COVID cases, hospitalizations and especially deaths are down significantly from the same period last year. “
DeSantis twice this week ignored the peak in COVID-19 cases as a “seasonal” event and said he was not worried about the numbers. But Gainesville infectious disease specialist Frederick Southwick, a member of the doctors’ committee, said DeSantis was incorrect.
“Our current wave of infections is in those who haven’t been vaccinated,” said Southwick, who said he spent 10 days earlier this year administering 35,000 doses of the vaccine.
DeSantis said on Wednesday that people who get vaccinated will likely avoid serious illness or death from the virus.
While St. Petersburg immunologist Mona Mangat has said she is happy the governor has promoted the vaccines as effective, she is concerned about her other actions, such as preventing companies from requiring people show proof of vaccination — an issue known as vaccine ban “passports”. “
“At the same time DeSantis says vaccines are effective — which they are — it also prohibits companies from requiring proof of vaccination,” said Mangat, also a member of the doctors’ committee. “It has deprived private companies of the ability to protect their employees and customers by demanding the safe and readily available vaccine. “
With the delta variant of the coronavirus playing a key role in the outbreak, the number of COVID-19 infections in Florida rose from 10,459 cases in the week of June 11 to 45,603 cases in the week of July 9 , depending on the last available state. The data.
Positivity rates have also skyrocketed in recent weeks, from 3.3% in the week of June 11 to 11.5% in the week of July 9.
Meanwhile, the number of people vaccinated during that same period fell by 46%.
Additionally, vaccination rates among some Florida healthcare workers are among the lowest in the country. An AARP report said just 42% of state nursing home workers had been fully immunized last month, placing Florida well behind the national average of 56%.
The spike in positivity combined with declining vaccination rates has resulted in an increase in the number of hospital patients in Florida facilities. And unlike the first wave of COVID-19 hospitalizations last year which severely affected the elderly, hospitals are reporting that the latest wave of hospitalizations are in younger patients.
Baptist Health Jacksonville chief medical officer Timothy Groover said on Wednesday that 44% of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 at Baptist Health in the past month were in their 40s or less.
“COVID-19 is a preventable disease like measles, but herd immunity quickly eludes us as a quarter of Americans refuse to be vaccinated,” Mangat said.
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