TALLAHASSEE — The number of people hospitalized in Florida because of COVID-19 continued at a record pace Monday, according to the Florida Hospital Association.
The industry group said 10,389 people were hospitalized for COVID-19 — the second day in a row that the number was over 10,000 and the highest daily total since the start of the pandemic.
During an interview with MSNBC, Mary Mayhew, the president and CEO of the association, called the increase “dramatic” and said the disease is “attacking a younger population and putting them in the hospital.” Mayhew said 50 percent of the people hospitalized are between ages 25 and 55. She also said 96 percent of people hospitalized were unvaccinated.
The surge in hospitalizations has come as the overall number of reported infections has risen dramatically in recent weeks, fueled by the highly transmissible delta variant of the coronavirus.
Florida registered its largest-ever single-day total of new COVID-19 cases — 21,683 — on Friday, according to data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC on Monday did not post new Florida case numbers from the weekend. Florida was one of 32 states with no COVID-19 infection data for Saturday and Sunday. The state Department of Health in early June scaled back to posting data once a week, with its reports coming out on Fridays.
State Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, who is running for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in 2022, called again Monday for Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration to return to providing daily reports to the public. Fried said residents were “completely in the dark” about what was going on.
Christina Pushaw, the governor’s press secretary, pushed back against Fried, saying that the state was sending data to the CDC on weekdays. The Florida Department of Health routinely and automatically reports COVID-19 data Monday through Friday, she said.
Department of Health Communications Director Weesam Khoury said the federal government has not required the states to report data on the weekend since June 18.
A review of the data, though, shows that this is the first time the state has not reported the information since June 18.
The rise of cases and hospitalizations in Florida also drew the attention of the White House.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, noting that 20 percent of all new cases in the nation are coming in Florida, said schools should be allowed to enact mask mandates and that vaccinations should be encouraged. DeSantis on Friday issued an executive order barring school districts from requiring students to wear masks.
“So, you know, at a certain point, leaders are going to have to choose whether they’re going to follow public health guidelines or whether they’re going to follow politics,” Psaki said.
DeSantis has disputed the need for children to wear masks and has argued that the decision should be left up to parents. His executive order threatened to withhold funding for school districts that require students to wear masks.
“I have young kids. My wife and I are not going to do the mask thing with the kids,” DeSantis said Friday. “We never have. I want to see my kids smiling. I want them having fun.”
DeSantis recently has encouraged people to get vaccinated, though he has also blocked businesses from requiring customers to show proof of vaccination — the concept known as “vaccine passports.”