Brevard County one of most dire in the nation as it’s Covid cases skyrocket – Desantis denies requesting vents

  • The state of Florida ordered 300 ventilators from the Biden administration, according to a Health and Human Services document revealed Monday
  • DeSantis said he ‘did not know about that’ when asked at a news conference
  • He also appeared to downplay Covid hospitalizations in his state  
  • Florida set a record for patients hospitalized with COVID-19 at 15,796 patients
  • It’s the 11th straight record day as the state’s medical resources are strained
  • More than 50 percent of patients in Florida ICUs have coronavirus
  • Officials in one county told residents to use 911 only if it’s ‘life-threatening’ 
  • All three hospital systems in the county have canceled elective surgeries and converted regular hospital space into Covid wards 

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis issued a denial Tuesday that his state asked the White House for a shipment of 300 ventilators, as Florida today sets a record for COVID-19 hospitalizations for the 11th day in a row.

A reporter at a COVID-19 press conference in Jacksonville confronted DeSantis about the state’s hospital system being strained by the onslaught of Covid cases. 

He began to push back on the question before the reporter added, ‘Why are you asking for 300 respirators?’

‘I didn’t ask – I did not know about that so I have to check to see whether that’s true or not,’ the Republican governor stammered. ‘I would honestly doubt that that’s true, but I’ll look.’

The state of Florida sent a request for the 300 ventilators to Joe Biden’s government on, according to a Health and Human Services (HHS) document obtained by ABC News revealed on Monday.

The request noted that the state’s supply was ‘expended.’ 

In the same press conference DeSantis seemed to downplay the severity of Covid in his state, which by some measures is worse now than at the pandemic’s peak in 2020. 

‘When they talk about Covid-positive patients in the hospital, that means anyone that’s tested positive. And some – most are being treated for Covid of course – but if you go in for a procedure they’re gonna test you, they test everyone that walks in, and so if you test positive you’re considered a Covid-positive patient even though you may not be treated,’ he said.

According to data from HHS, nearly 15,800 patients are hospitalized with Covid in Florida.

More than 30 percent of all patients in hospitals are sick with Covid as are over 50 percent of patients in intensive care units.   

The surge has become so dire that officials in one county are telling residents to use 911 only if they have a ‘life-threatening emergency.’ 

Florida’s current situation demonstrates the dangers of being unvaccinated as the Indian ‘Delta’ variant dominates this new Covid wave.

Florida is now seeing more Covid patients in its hospitals than at any other time during the pandemic, with over 2,000 people admitted each day in the past week
Florida is now seeing more Covid patients in its hospitals than at any other time during the pandemic, with over 2,000 people admitted each day in the past week
Officials in Florida's Brevard County are telling residents to avoid using 911 unless in a dire emergency. Pictured: A young woman arrives outside a Covid treatment tent at one of the county's hospitals, in Palm Beach, July 20219
Officials in Florida’s Brevard County are telling residents to avoid using 911 unless in a dire emergency. Pictured: A young woman arrives outside a Covid treatment tent at one of the county’s hospitals, in Palm Beach, July 20219

Florida is currently one of the nation’s biggest Covid hotspots, with more patients now in hospitals than at any other time during the pandemic.

This state, along with Louisiana, has the highest Covid cases per capita of almost any state – or any country in the world.

On Wednesday, for the 11th day in a row, the state set a record for patients hospitalized with Covid at 15,796 patients.

About one-third of all hospitalized patients in the state right now are suffering from COVID-19, a higher share than any other state.

In s Brevard County county, the hospital system is so overwhelmed that local officials are asking residents to avoid emergency services if possible.

Brevard County is the tenth-most populous in the state and includes Cape Canaveral, Palm Bay, and other nearby cities.

‘There is a capacity issue at our local hospitals dealing with this new surge in COVID-19,’ Brevard County fire chief Mark Schollmeyer told CBS News.

‘Crowding in the ERs has caused us to hold the wall and wait for our patients to offload before we run the next call.’

Schollmeyer recommended that residents try other options – such contacting a primary care physician or a telemedicine hotline – and only call an ambulance if the situation is truly dire.

‘Leave emergency room and ambulance trips for those with life-threatening or serious emergencies,’ he said.

Brevard County has a case positivity rate over 20 percent, meaning that one in five county residents who get tested for Covid is receiving a positive result.

The county has seen 640 new cases for every 100,000 people in the last week, according to HHS data

HHS classifies the county as a ‘sustained hotspot.’ Just 20 percent of overall hospital beds – and under 10 percent of intensive care beds – are currently available for new patients.

The number of COVID-19 patients in Brevard County has increased 25 percent in the past week.

All three hospital systems in the county have canceled elective surgeries and converted regular hospital space into Covid wards, CBS News reported.

Under half – about 49 percent – of county residents are fully vaccinated.

Over 30 percent of patients in Florida hospitals are sick with Covid, the highest share of any state
Over 30 percent of patients in Florida hospitals are sick with Covid, the highest share of any state
Florida's Covid spike is hitting teenagers and young adults particularly hard
Florida’s Covid spike is hitting teenagers and young adults particularly hard

While Brevard County’s situation may be particularly dire, it’s not unique in Florida right now.

The state overall saw about 2,300 new Covid patients yesterday alone – that’s about one-fifth of all new Covid patients in the country.

At the peak of the winter Covid surge, Florida never saw more than 1,300 new Covid patients in a day.

Florida’s intensive care units are particularly strained. According to the HHS, the state has 3,222 Covid patients in ICUs as of August 12.

That is more than half of all ICU patients in the state – 6,205 total.

During this crisis, 42 Florida hospitals are saying they have a critical staffing shortage right now, according to the HHS. These hospitals represent 21 percent of the total Florida facilities reporting this metric.

The recent hospitalization increase is impacting every age group, with a particularly concerning spike in young adults.

In the past week, hospitalizations in Florida’s 18-29 age group have risen five-fold – from 0.8 new admissions for every 100,000 people to over 4 new admissions for every 100,000.

The dire situation in Florida demonstrates the dangers that the Delta variant poses for unvaccinated Americans, who make up the vast majority of those now hospitalized.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has banned mask mandates in schools and other settings.

Still, many local officials in the state continue to encourage residents to protect themselves against Delta through vaccination, masks, and other precautions.

‘It is imperative that we pull together, we get through this and slow this curve to relieve the stress on our hospital system and our healthcare system so we can take care of everyone who gets sick,’ Brevard County emergency director John Scott told CBS News.

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