TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Get vaccinated.
That was the message Thursday from the head of Florida's Hospital Association as the risk of overwhelming the state's health system grew.
At last check, Florida has nearly 9,000 COVID hospitalizations. If trends continue, the state will exceed 2020's peak in a matter of days.
Weekday Florida COVID-19 Update -— Florida Hospital Association (@FLHospitalAssn) July 29, 2021
Total Confirmed Hospitalizations: 8,907 pic.twitter.com/xCsTv8xFBg
"Get vaccinated," said Florida Hospital Association's CEO and President Mary Mayhew. "We need people to get vaccinated."
Mayhew said more shots would mean fewer serious COVID-19 cases in the coming weeks, easing the burden on health providers in time.
"That's not going to immediately stop this surge because it takes several weeks for that protection from the vaccine to take hold," she said. "But we need young individuals to understand that, unlike last year, they are at greatest risk of not only getting COVID but being hospitalized with COVID."
While Mayhew said hospitals hadn't yet reported a supply shortage, like last year, staffing had become a struggle. Nurses, lab techs, and respiratory therapists of particular concern, she said.
Mayhew called for the Florida Health Department to reissue COVID-19 emergency rules. They could allow for more flexibility on patient care and for out-of-state medical workers to fill current gaps.
"We are working with the state to ensure that they understand exactly what we need, what is the most critical flexibility and how best to get that done," Mayhew said.
Some doctors and lawmakers want more, however. They recently called for a new COVID emergency order from Gov. Ron DeSantis. His office told us Tuesday he had no plans to follow through.
DeSantis is also advocating for vaccination -- though he continues to resist mask and other mitigation mandates, supporting individual choice.
The governor was in Utah on Wednesday night where he spoke to a crowd of conservatives at a meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council.
"We will not back down. We've only begun to fight," DeSantis said at the event.