Florida COVID-19 hospitalizations rise as ICU levels, new deaths remain near pandemic lows
Intensive care units across Florida hospitals remain relatively empty as subvariants of the coronavirus omicron mutation fuel another wave of infections and hospitalizations statewide.
An average of 88 COVID-positive adult patients per day laid in ICUs across Florida during the week ending Friday, the U.S. Health and Human Services Department reported. That's lower than almost any point in the pandemic, despite rising numbers of COVID-positive hospital patients.
Hospitals statewide reported a daily average of 829 patients, the highest level since March 29, during the tail-end of the wave of infections driven by the original omicron variant.
Is the pandemic over? Why Dr. Fauci is saying the US is 'out of the pandemic phase' of COVID-19
BA.2 subvariant spreads:Florida's COVID-19 hospitalizations are rising again as BA.2 subvariant starts to spread
Florida hospitalization hit low:Florida's COVID-19 hospitalizations hit pandemic low again as BA.2 cases rise
As omicron subvariants sweep across the state, medical experts have said they expect new cases to be much less severe than previous waves. Most Americans have either gotten vaccinated and boosted, or have been infected by the original omicron strain, granting them some immunity.
Across the southeastern U.S., the subvariant BA.2 has been found in about 66% of COVID tests that detect variants, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. Another subvariant on the rise, BA.2.12.1, accounts for about 30%.
The state's death toll climbed by 118 people since April 22, CDC figures show. That's the smallest weekly increase since April 2, 2020.
COVID-19 has killed at least 73,948 Florida residents.
Vaccinations overcounted:How safe are Floridians from COVID? State overcounts vaccinations by 600,000 people
Florida health officials logged an average of 3,796 new infections per day during the week ended Thursday, the CDC reported. That's the highest level since Feb. 23.
It has taken almost twice as long for omicron's subvariants to push new cases to that level compared with the original omicron strain.
It took 19 days for the daily average to rise from 1,271 on Nov. 27 to 3,747 on Dec. 15.
It took 35 days to go from 1,277 cases daily on March 25 to the current level.
Florida has logged more than 5.9 million infections since the start of the pandemic.
More than 16.6 million Florida residents have gotten at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, CDC figures show. But that's nearly 1.2 million more than what Florida health officials reported April 22 in their most recent bi-weekly report.
The CDC counts federal personnel and others in Florida that state health officials don't. At the same time, the state Health Department overcounts inoculations by more than 600,000 people due to vaccine providers erroneously classifying out-of-staters as Florida residents.
More than 5.7 million residents have gotten boosters, the CDC says. State health officials say that number is just under 5.2 million.
In all, that's 74% to 78% of Floridians with at least one shot in their arms, including 24.9% to 26.5% with boosters.
Either way, Florida lags behind the rest of the nation. About 30% of the U.S. population have gotten boosters, a comparison of CDC figures to U.S. Census Bureau estimates show.
Chris Persaud is The Palm Beach Post's data reporter. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.