TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Despite a small decrease in COVID-19 hospitalizations over the weekend, Florida isn't likely peaking, experts said Monday.
The Sunday dip was the first in about two weeks. The Florida Hospital Association reported a drop of 110 patients to 15,630. Monday's update subsequently showed a gain of 26 hospitalizations to 15,656.
While any reduction was positive news for officials, Association President Mary Mayhew warned COVID cases still rose on Sunday.
ℹ Florida COVID-19 Update for August 15, 2021— Florida Hospital Association (@FLHospitalAssn) August 15, 2021
🚨 Total Confirmed Hospitalizations: 15,630 pic.twitter.com/bhfkefvw1Z
"[There were] nearly 26,000 new, positive cases yesterday," she said. "The timing of that means that within about 10 days, we will see increased hospitalizations as a result."
It comes as hospitals are already strained by a busier than normal summer and staff shortages nationwide.
The latest FHA survey found nearly 67 percent of Florida facilities expected a critical staff shortage this week. About 29 percent were preparing to expand patients into non-care areas.
"We all are optimistic with that, within the next seven to 14 days, we might start to see a case plateau that would then lead to ultimately plateauing in hospitalizations," Mayhew said. "It's just incredibly difficult to predict."
The good news is that new Centers for Disease Control data showed Florida had achieved full vaccination of more than half its population.
Physicians hope to see those numbers continue to climb, giving the delta variant fewer patients to infect and more Floridians protection against serious illness.
"The only people who lose are those that do not follow the infection control practices and don't get the vaccine," said Dr. Frederick Southwick, a Gainesville infectious disease specialist. "Ninety-four percent of our hospitalizations are those that are unvaccinated."
The @FLHospitalAssn's latest update: President Mayhew saying... "It is indescribable the level of stress and strain our brave frontline health care heroes have been under for more than 17 months and the heartbreaking losses they have experienced." pic.twitter.com/Qb862suxdf— Forrest Saunders (@FBSaunders) August 13, 2021
Southwick is one of 800 physicians who recently wrote a letter to the governor, urging more state action against COVID-19.
Gov. Ron DeSantis hasincreased access to monoclonal therapies -- but continues to resist vaccine requirements and mask mandates, defending individual choice.