TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The major strain on hospitals from the COVID-19 pandemic appears to be easing, state health officials said Tuesday.
Mary Mayhew has reason to feel a little better these days.
"After nearly two-and-a-half months, our hospitals seeing a dramatic reduction in overall COVID hospitalizations," said Mayhew, the CEO of the Florida Hospital Association.
Mayhew is glad to see the pressure on health providers easing across Florida, including the Palm Beaches and Treasure Coast.
Doctors credit the surge from back-to-school slowing to a rise in vaccinations, monoclonal antibody drugs, and more masking.
"I get asked this question often. When will it end? The question is, when we make it end?" said infectious disease specialist Dr. Larry Bush.
Bush said we are still far from herd immunity and putting COVID behind us.
"We may never be done with COVID. This may be something we have forever, and keep in mind, if this current coronavirus mixes with another animal coronavirus, we may get a whole new strain just like SARS, just like MERS," Bush said.
Mayhew said hospitals are still dealing with large numbers, but keeping the numbers going down is the challenge now.
"We need people to get vaccinated. That is one way we can try to avoid a future mutation of the virus and a future surge," Mayhew said.
Right now, more masking and social distancing are also helping, but medical experts worry the coming holiday travel season may likely send COVID numbers rising again by winter.