Doctors in Florida Increasingly Worried About More Kids Getting COVID

Florida hospitals are once again filling up with patients battling Covid-19. They are young–many are in their 20s and 30s, some even in their teens and younger — and they appear to be much sicker than those who flooded hospitals in the early months of the pandemic. The alarming spike has come as the new and more transmissible Delta variant spreads across the state as many residents and tourists have effectively returned to pre-pandemic social rituals.

The third most populated stated in the country, Florida shattered Covid records over the weekend. On Saturday, the state recorded 21,683 new daily cases — the most since the start of the pandemic. Florida hospitals are also dealing with the ripple effects of the new surge. On Sunday, the state broke a record for current hospitalizations with 10,207, the Florida Hospital Association confirmed. The previous record — 10,179 hospitalizations — was set July 23, 2020, more than a half-year before vaccinations started to become widespread.

COVID-19 Coronavirus molecule, March 24, 2020. (Photo by CDC/API/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

Florida has become the new national center for the virus, accounting for about a fifth of all new cases in the country. In hospitals across the state, doctors, nurses and staff members are confronting a fast-moving and escalating crisis with no end in sight. Governor Ron “Death” DeSantis has been widely criticized for his repeated refusals to protect his state, giving anti-vaxxers public permission to make their own decisions, endangering unvaccinated communities hit extra hard by the Delta variant.

Now that the new school year is approaching, concerns over keeping kids under 12 safe have also increased. Not only are the patients younger–the state logged more cases in children younger than 12 than it had in its entire population just six weeks ago–they’re sicker as well. With the new surge already outpacing the numbers from last year at the same time when vaccines weren’t available, hospital staffs are once again being stretched to their limits as ICU beds fill up and sick patients are being turned away.

Gov. DeSantis, along with the state Legislature, has curbed local officials’ authority to impose restrictions designed to stop the spread of the virus. The state’s medical providers recognize that persuading unvaccinated residents to set up appointments for doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines is an immense challenge. Now some hospitals are once again canceling some elective operations and certain procedures that require overnight stays so it can devote more time to treating people with Covid.

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