Florida, a state famous for its oranges, is now in the orange. According to an analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most counties in the Sunshine State are seeing “high” Covid community levels, a metric based on hospital capacity, hospital admissions, and new case numbers. With an average of about 10,618 new cases reported per day in the state and climbing hospitalization rates this week, more than 90 percent of Floridians fall into the “high” risk category, the Tampa Bay Times reports.
Here’s the graphic of Covid community levels by county in Florida:
And here is the rest of the country:
The report comes at a particularly bad time for Florida. This week, the Florida Department of Health announced it would not be preordering vaccines for children under five years old, making it the only state in the country to do so. “States do not need to be involved in the convoluted vaccine distribution process, especially when the federal government has a track record of developing inconsistent and unsustainable COVID-19 policies,” the department said in a statement, according to Politico. “It is also no surprise we chose not to participate in distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine when the Department does not recommend it for all children.” (It’s worth noting that Florida’s recommendations against vaccination for healthy children, including those older than five, have received harsh criticism from health experts and pediatricians.)
“There’s not going to be any state programs that are going to be trying to, you know, get Covid jabs to infants and toddlers and newborns,” said Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, at a news conference Thursday. “That’s not something that we think is appropriate, and so that’s not where we’re going to be utilizing our resources in that regard.” In response, Florida Democratic Party spokesperson Kobie Christian said DeSantis was “using children’s safety as a political prop,” CNN reported.
The CDC is expected to follow the Food and Drug Administration and recommend the vaccine for children under five years old (and older than six months) on Saturday.
On Friday, after reports of Florida’s decision circulated, Florida’s Department of Health issued another statement clarifying that vaccines can be ordered by health care providers and will be available “as early as next week” at pharmacies like CVS, Walgreens, and Publix, a Florida grocery store chain. “Florida’s decision to not participate in the cumbersome vaccine pre-ordering process never prohibited vaccine supply from being ordered or from being available in Florida,” it reads.