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Florida Urged to ‘Ramp Up’ Vaccinations Amid ‘Alarming’ Rise in Delta Variant Cases

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis was in Texas, pulling a MAGA and bashing President Joe Biden over immigration at the southern border. But with the highly contagious Delta variant pushing new cases of Covid-19 in his home state to their highest level since January, DeSantis’s road trip now looks increasingly deaf in tone and timing.

By week’s end, Florida was accounting for almost a quarter of new infections nationally, with the U.S. surgeon general, Vivek Murthy, warning of an “alarming” rise in deaths and hospitalizations.

LAKELAND, FLORIDA, UNITED STATES – 2021/05/28: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis listens at a press conference at LifeScience Logistics to urge the Biden administration to approve Florida’s plan to import prescription drugs from Canada, thereby saving Floridians an estimated $100 million annually on drug costs. (Photo by Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

“The challenge in Florida, and in far too many states, is [that] we still don’t have vaccination rates high enough, and in some pockets we have actually vaccination rates quite low,” Murthy said in an interview with McClatchy Newspapers. “The consequence is that Covid is now spreading very quickly in those populations.”

 

 

Florida’s nation-leading surge, which according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has seen the seven-day average of cases more than quadrupled from 1,839 on 1 July to 8,911 three weeks later, is filling up hospitals around the state. Hospital systems in Miami, Jacksonville, Tampa Bay and central Florida are reporting a record rise in admissions, and are limiting visitors and warning of looming staff shortages.

DeSantis has promised action: but only to convene a special session of the Florida legislature to block any move by the Biden administration to implement a mask mandate in the state’s public schools. “If I were a parent in Florida, that would be greatly concerning to me,” the White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, told reporters after DeSantis announced the proposal.

The Governor has earned the nicknames “DeathSantis” and “DeathSentence” on social media after his early ignorance of the coronavirus and mishandling of his state’s mask mandates and lockdown procedures. Despite selling anti-vaxxer merchandise with the slogan “Don’t Fauci My Florida”, DeSantis has now quickly adopted the brand new GOP tactic of encouraging their base to get vaccinated.

In what hopefully isn’t a case of way too little, way too late, DeSantis is now on board with his constituents getting their shots.

“These vaccines are saving lives,” DeSantis said at a news conference at which he noted that more than 95% of new infections in Florida were of those who had not received a shot. The state ranks 25th in the US, with 48.1% of those eligible fully vaccinated, 0.7% below the national average.



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