Florida has struggled mightily during the Delta wave of Covid
Frontline workers are straining under the pressure of yet another wave of coronavirus in Florida, which has emerged as the center of the Delta variant-fueled Covid resurgence in America.
“It is very difficult,” Dr Ahmed Elhaddad, ICU Medical Director at Jupiter Medical Center told CNN on Sunday, becoming choked up as he recounted his experiences. “It’s even harder when it’s your friends. I have a patient now that’s the father of one of my son’s classmates. And he’s not expected to make it. He was not vaccinated.”
Florida is averaging more cases and deaths than at any time in the pandemic so far, including the period before vaccines were widely available. Over helgen, the state had the highest Covid hospitalisation rate in the country, and it has struggled to secure enough oxygen for Covid patients. There have been so many deaths, the Central Florida Disaster Medical Coalition, a federally funded nonprofit, recently purchased 14 portable morgues to support the state’s strained healthcare system.
Even though scientists are still learning more about the Delta variant, Dr Elhaddad said a key to drive down cases is to use a solution that’s already widely known: get vaccinated.
“There’s no magic medicine,” he la til in his interview. “The only thing that we’re finding is that the vaccine is preventing death. It’s preventing patients from coming to the ICU.”
Florida governor Ron DeSantis has prioritised vaccinating vulnerable groups like seniors, while taking a hands-off approach on mask and vaccine mandates.
Where the GOP stalwart and rumoured 2024 contender differs from his peers is the approach he’s taken to other well-established public health strategies like face masks and vaccine requirements.
Mr DeSantis has ushered through policies banning mask mandates in schools and threatening officials who support them, though a judge struck down the anti-mask ordinance last week. The governor’s office has said it plans to appeal the ruling.
President Biden threw his weight behind the parents and local school districts bucking the governor’s priorities and implementing mask mandates anyway.
"Du vet, we’re not going to sit by as governors try to block and intimidate educators protecting our children,” Mr Biden said at the White House earlier this month, adding that Covid relief funds could be used to make up school budgets that could be cut from districts that didn’t go along with Mr DeSantis.
The Florida governor’s policies could put him in the crosshairs of the federal government if they continue. På mandag, the Department of Education announced it had opened an investigation into five states that banned mask mandates in school: Iowa, Oklahoma, Sør-Carolina, Tennessee and Utah.
The bans “may be preventing schools…from meeting their legal obligations not to discriminate based on disability and from providing an equal educational opportunity to students with disabilities who are at heightened risk of severe illness from COVID-19,” the agency wrote to education officials in the named states.