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Fla. sets new record for COVID-19 hospitalizations; DeSantis not budging on mask bans

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Posted at 4:29 PM, Aug 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-05 15:44:01-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida set another new record for hospitalizations Wednesday with the state recording 12,408 inpatient beds in use for COVID-19 patients and 54,991 total inpatient beds occupied. Despite the daily record growing, Governor Ron DeSantis has not backed down on his bans of mask mandates at the local level.

Governor DeSantis on Tuesday argued that statewide lockdowns have "failed time and time again throughout this pandemic" and "they have not stopped the spread."

"In terms of shutting down, we're not shutting down," DeSantis said during a news conference at Everglades National Park. "We're gonna have schools open. We're protecting every Floridian's job in this state. We're protecting people's small businesses."

While DeSantis admitted that emergency room visits for COVID-like illness (CLI) went up "sharply" in July, he seemed to dismiss the record spike in hospitalizations, instead claiming they're now "plateauing."

"We are watching the CLI. That is plateauing. The hospital admissions have slowed. I don't think we've reached the peak yet. But I think we're gonna settle in hopefully this week or next week," DeSantis said.

For its part, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday that DeSantis and others who stand in the way of public health officials need to get out of the way.

“If you aren’t going to help, not going to abide by public health guidance, get out of the way,” Press Secretary Psaki said.

DeSantis also again encouraged people in the state to get vaccinated. While the governor said almost 25,000 fully vaccinated Floridians have tested positive for COVID-19, he said their symptoms have been less severe.

"Yes, there are positive tests among vaccinated. At the same time, the mortality and all that data is very, very clear," DeSantis said. "We think that even amidst a lot of positive tests, you still see much less mortality than we did year-over-year. That's important."