TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — As COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations again rise in the Sunshine State, Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday morning called the upswing little more than a seasonal flux.
DeSantis made the comments during a press conference in Central Florida. Despite the more infectious Delta variant's spread, he predicted cases would again start trending downward by August.
"These things have a pattern," DeSantis said. "We saw the pattern last summer. It's similar. I think it started a little later. I think people should just be prepared for that."
The Republican leader also didn't push too hard for vaccinations, though shots remain the best way to prevent infection.
DeSantis noted their effectiveness but also defended an individual's choice. That's as about 44%, according to CDC reports, of Floridians have yet to receive a single shot.
"I do not agree with some of these people -- some of these 'experts' who lambast people and criticize them or say they're stupid or something," he said. "That’s not the way to reach folks."
Vaccine hesitancy could come at a cost to everyone, however, with renewed risk of overwhelming hospitals. Florida beds are much emptier than last year, but hospitalizations are again on the rise.
There are currently an estimated 3,200 COVID-19 patients in Florida hospitals, according to the latest CDC reporting. That's up a little more than 45 percent from the prior week.
"We rank fourth highest in the country on that metric, behind only Nevada, Arkansas and Missouri," said University of South Florida Epidemiologist Jason Salemi.
While vaccinations remain key, Salemi acknowledged not everyone will want one. He encouraged those hesitant to use 2020 protections that helped quash COVID-19's spread before shots were available.
"The No. 1 thing I think we can do right now is doubling down on some of those individual mitigation efforts," Salemi said. "Especially when we're indoors, like masking and social distancing. Those things that are tried and true measures that have been known to curb community spread when it starts to increase, as it has recently."