Top FL hospital exec confirms COVID hospitalizations are at a new peak

Gov’s spokeswoman had tweeted Ag Commissioner Nikki Fried’s report was ‘a lie’

By: - August 2, 2021 4:35 pm

Florida Hospital Association CEO Mary Mayhew said Monday that COVID hospitalizations are higher than ever. Screenshot: MSNBC Morning Joe

Florida’s leading hospital executive confirmed Monday that Florida now has more COVID-19 related hospitalizations than ever before in the pandemic.

Mary Mayhew, president of the Florida Hospital Association and former secretary of the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that the number of hospitalizations exceeds the former record set in late July 2020, before vaccines were available.

“What we are experiencing over the last 27 days is a dramatic increase in the number of hospitalizations,” Mayhew said on the show. “Last year in 2020, it took us 60 days to go from 2,000 cases to 10,000. It has taken us 27 days to break our 2020 peak, so it has been a dramatic increase.” She added that the patients are much younger than the ones most stricken by the original COVID-19 virus.

Following the “Morning Joe” show, the Florida Hospital Association reported this afternoon 10,389 total confirmed hospitalizations. In a July 28 news release on its website, the association cited the previous record for hospitalizations was July 23, 2020, at 10,179.

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried is providing data to the public on COVID-19, saying that the state Health Department has reduced the amount of information about the pandemic. Credit: Fried Facebook Page.

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried reported over the weekend that Florida hospitalizations had hit a new record high. Fried recently began delivering daily updates to the public on COVID-19 cases, vaccinations and other data points.

“We reported this yesterday and the Governor’s office called me a liar,” Fried tweeted on Monday.

Gov. Ron DeSantis’ spokeswoman Christina Pushaw on Twitter called Fried’s statement about record-high hospitalizations “a lie” and insisted the worst day for hospitalizations continues to be July 22 of last year.

The Florida Department of Health no longer makes public a range of detailed data as it once did. It uses a weekly update rather than a daily analysis. The federal CDC data does provide daily COVID data.

Meanwhile, at its annual meeting this past weekend weekend, the Florida Medical Association renewed its call  for COVID-19 vaccinations and the wearing of face masks among all health-care providers.

The FMA’s statement, released Monday morning, urges “all health care practitioners and medical support staff receive the COVID-19 vaccine and utilize harm reduction techniques, such as the wearing of masks, for the safety, protection, and well-being of our communities” as the Delta variant of COVID-19 surges in Florida and elsewhere.

The gold line shows COVID hospitalizations reaching new pandemic highs in the past few days. The blue line shows hospitalizations last year, which peaked on July 23 before vaccines were available. Credit: Florida Hospital Association

The statement was announced by incoming FMA President Doug Murphy, an Ocala physician installed at the annual meeting in Orlando.

“The Florida Medical Association further renewed its commitment in combatting COVID-19 – and its variant – as we work tirelessly to educate Florida patients on the lifesaving benefit of getting vaccinated. Physicians continue to see daily upticks in coronavirus cases in younger, unvaccinated patients, which is why it is even more important for all healthcare practitioners and medical support staff to receive the vaccine. FMA members have been at the frontlines of this pandemic, and we must not allow COVID cases to reach 2020 levels,” Murphy said in the announcement.

New cases in Florida spiked to 21,683 on Friday, the highest since March 2020, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which published the data on Saturday.

The Florida Medical Association statement for the health care sector comes on the heels of the governor issuing an executive order Friday authorizing parents to disregard local mandates on wearing masks at schools.

DeSantis insists that families should make their own decisions on wearing masks at school and he posted an executive order that could potentially withhold money from local school districts.

The League of Women Voters issued a statement Monday condemning the governor’s action and calling on him to lift the order and let locally elected school boards set policies they consider most prudent in their jurisdictions.

The CDC urges people in the red and orange areas — including all of Florida — to wear face masks in indoor gathering places to slow the surge in COVID transmission. Credit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The new school year begins this month amid a COVID resurgence nationwide that prompted the CDC to reinstate its guidance for students, staff and visitors to wear face masks at school and other indoor gathering places, regardless of wearers’ status as vaccinated or not.

DeSantis’ order sets up a legal clash between the governor and the Broward County School Board, which adopted a mask mandate in its schools last Wednesday, citing the new CDC guidance and surging hospitalizations. The clash also goes to the power’s of the executive branch – DeSantis – and the Florida Constitution, which says school boards shall operate, control and supervise all free public schools.

Earlier this year, DeSantis banned COVID-19 restrictions statewide, striking down locally imposed mask mandates and the use of “vaccine passports” to verify people’s status as vaccinated as a means of entry to activities such as boarding cruise ships. Vaccination as a requirement to board cruise ships was recommended by the CDC and was endorsed by several cruise lines, but DeSantis fought the measure in court and has, so far, prevailed.

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Laura Cassels
Laura Cassels

Laura Cassels is a reporter, former statehouse bureau chief, and former city editor. She is a classical pianist, a Florida State University graduate and proud alum of the Florida Flambeau, an independent college newspaper. Contact her at [email protected]