Florida saw a significant jump in the number of new COVID-19 cases in the past week, a surge noted by the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as part of a “pandemic of unvaccinated.”
The Florida Department of Health reported on Friday that there were 45,604 new COVID-19-related cases and 59 deaths in the week that ended July 15. The same weekly report also showed that the COVID-19 positivity rate has surged from 7.8% to 11.5%. The numbers reflect a period following the long July 4 holiday weekend.
MORE: COVID-19 Weekly Situation Report: State Overview
One of Florida’s most significant COVID-19 surges also occurred last summer, but that was before health authorities had begun distributing COVID-19 vaccines.
This is the second week in a row that Florida has seen COVID-19 cases trending upward, but Gov. Ron DeSantis attributed the increase to a seasonal pattern.
“We knew it was going to be low in May and it was, and we know as we got to the end of June, July would go up, because that’s what happened last year,” DeSantis said at a press conference in Orlando Tuesday.
But federal health authorities in Washington, D.C. painted a much different picture. At a Friday briefing, White House COVID-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients told reporters that 1 in 5 new cases nationally were from Florida.
In Southwest Florida, WINK News spoke to people out in public in downtown Naples about their current views toward the pandemic, COVID-19 and the vaccine.
“I think if I get the flu, if I get the COVID, I’ll take the COVID,” said Jeffery Meehan of North Fort Myers. “I’m in good enough health that I can get through the flu. That’s the way I feel.”
Neither Meehan has been vaccinated nor has Jesse Riggs. Riggs, from Lakeland, was in Naples visiting his parents.
“I personally don’t know if I’m going to get vaccinated because I’m young still, and I’m not, I just don’t know if it’s worth the risk,” Riggs said.
Health experts say the risk is living life without the vaccine.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, sounded the alarm that cases, deaths and hospitalizations are increasing.
“This is becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” Walensky said. “We are seeing outbreaks of cases in parts of the country that have low vaccination coverage because unvaccinated people are at risk. And communities that are fully vaccinated are generally faring well.”
The most recent CDC data shows that 57.1% of Florida’s adult-age population is fully vaccinated.
MORE: Florida Department of Health – Find a Vaccine Location