This epidemiologist heartily disagrees with this official announcement made from the Florida Department of Health retweeting their spokesman’s personal Twitter account on March 11th.
We need more information, not less. Unfortunately, the tactic works: even Floridians tend to express shock when I tell them about the most recent statistics.
Until June 2021, Florida reported Covid statistics every day with an online database. Weeks before the delta variant took hold in the state with devastating effects, the Department of Health switched to a weekly pdf while withholding data previously available to the public. Now Florida is halving the frequency of reports to the public to every two weeks. The state directing people to the CDC, where there is an information lag.
Even during the omicron wave, Florida did not increase the frequency of reporting, leaving many residents unaware of the amount of viral transmission occurring until Christmas Eve. In the two weeks before December 24th, the number of confirmed Covid cases increased 850%:
Public health experts view a positivity rate of 5% or below sufficient to capture all Covid cases. During that same period ending on December 23rd, the positivity rate rose from 2.6% to 13.9%. So, the actual number of cases was likely 180% higher than what the state reported:
Beginning in June 2021, Florida removed all archived Covid data from their web site. Until today, they replaced the statistics from the previous week with a new report.
Now that will occur every two weeks. That makes it even more difficult—even for those who have saved the old data—to see the actual numbers of cases and deaths. No hospitalization information is included.
On the Florida Department of Health web site, you can locate influenza records from 2001 but not Covid data from March 3–9, 2022.
FL Covid Deaths:
- As of March 10, 2022, FL has claimed 71,860 cumulative Covid deaths.
- CDC data shows 72,704 Covid deaths in Florida by March 17, 2022.
- On June 4, 2021, the state removed 744 deaths among non-permanent residents and stopped reporting them.
- Weekly deaths increased by 2% to 880 during March 11–17.
- During June 2021–February 2022, Florida has reported only 6,760 of the 34,589 Covid deaths among permanent residents as “New Deaths” (20%).
- Hillsborough County had 63 deaths, a 5% weekly increase from 50.
- The percentage of deaths reported in Florida among senior citizens is unknown.
- FL has 9.4% of US deaths when vaccinations were available to all over 15 for 6.6% of the US population.
- Since July 1, 2021, FL has the third worst death rate in the US.
- Over half of Florida’s Covid deaths have occurred since everyone over 15 became eligible for vaccination.
- CA has 70% more people than Florida, yet almost the same number of excess deaths.
- Among the 6 largest states, the Florida death rate is below only Pennsylvania’s.
- FL does not report Covid deaths stratified by vaccination status.
FL Covid Vaccinations:
- NO data is available for the last week
- Booster shots are an important precaution against the omicron variant.
- Boosters prevented 84% of omicron hospitalizations among people aged 18–49; 92% for ages 50–64; and 94% for senior citizens.
- The state does not report cases or deaths by vaccination status.
- On 1-14-22, the governor refused to enforce the federal mandate for healthcare workers upheld by the Supreme Court a day earlier.
- On 1-19-22, the state put Orange County’s epidemiologist on leave for chiding his employees’ 40% vaccination rate. That will end on 3-22-22.
- On 1-15-22 the governor said many nurses avoid vaccination due to “trying to have families.” Numerous studies confirm vaccination does not cause infertility.
Florida Covid Testing and Prevention:
- On 1-4-22, FL’s Surgeon General decried “testing psychology” to identify all cases.
- On 1-6-22, FL’s Agriculture Secretary revealed 1,000,000 expired antigen tests.
- On 1-8-22, FL’s web site told those not at high risk of severe cases to avoid testing.
- On 1-9-22, the governor announced 1,000,000 tests for long-term care and nursing homes
- On 2-7-22, the state reprimanded two companies which failed to report 230,000 test results from December and January until that week.
- A positivity rate below 5% means testing is adequate to capture mild and asymptomatic cases. That figure is now unavailable.
- On 3-2-22 Governor DeSantis chided a group of teens in a county with a high alert level and told them to remove their face masks. He then used that episode to raise campaign funds. Under those conditions, the CDC recommends that everyone wear masks indoors
Florida Covid Cases:
- The CDC reported 5,832,763 cumulative Covid cases in Florida on March 17, 2022.
- On the March 10th report, Florida reported 5,824,728 cumulative cases among permanent residents.
- On June 4th, the state removed all data from anyone who is not a permanent resident and stopped reporting it. This deleted 43,535 cases.
- Comparing these two data sets, gives us an estimate of 8,035 new cases, a 22% decrease from the prior week.
- Other CDC data shows 8,456 cases for the state, 18% lower than a week earlier. Some counties have case numbers suppressed.
- FL began a decline nine weeks ago. New cases are lower than in mid-November before the omicron wave began.
- The state-wide positivity rate is unavailable. Public health officials recommend maintaining a positivity rate <5% for 2 weeks before reopening. We had met that goal on a state-wide level last week.
- CDC data shows there were 567 cases in Hillsborough County this week, 14% fewer than a week earlier. The county positivity rate is 1.5%, a decrease of 0.8%:
- Last week, county level positivity rates ranged from 0%–15.1%.
- We cannot determine how many Florida residents under 20 tested positive.
- The Hillsborough County School District was on Spring Break last week.
- Florida law prohibits requiring masks in non-medical settings.
- Parents decide about quarantining after a close contact at school.
- On 1-31-22, FL shifted its focus to “high congregate settings,” not schools and day cares.
- During the week leading up to that announcement 38,629 school-aged children in Florida had tested positive.
- On 1-31-22, FL students absent due to Covid exposure are truant per Orange County
Florida Covid Treatment:
- Omicron mutations render ineffective almost all monoclonal antibodies previously in use.
- 100% of FL cases are due to those viral strains; 99.7%, 7 weeks ago; 92%, 9 weeks ago.
- The rate of increase for the BA.2 subvariant is significantly slower than for previous omicron variants. During March 5–12, BA.2 increased from 7.0% to 12.4% in the region which includes Florida.
- Sotrovimab works against the omicron BA.1 variant at a dosage 3x more than for delta. It is 27 times less effective for omicron BA.2.
- Eight weeks ago, Florida used 140 of its 4,400 Sotrovimab doses and 2,700 of Regeneron.
- On 1-18-22, FL opened more infusion centers to distribute 15,000 doses of Regeneron.
- The FDA revised its EUA for Regeneron on 1-24-22, prohibiting its use against omicron. The state continues to complain about this FDA action as the main feature of its Covid website.
- DeSantis objected to no shipments; all FL antibody infusion centers closed on 1-25-22.
- A new monoclonal antibody called bebtelovimab is effective against omicron BA.2 and other omicron variants. It began shipping to Florida four weeks ago.
- Here is the most recent federal allocation of 18,200 Covid-specific treatments to Florida: 2,400 post-exposure Bebtelovimab (for all omicron types); 2,600 post-exposure Sotrovimab for omicron variants except for BA.2; 6,500 of the oral Paxlovid; and 6,800 of the less-effective oral Molnupiravir. None of the Covid pre-exposure Evusheld is being delivered nationwide:
- On 1-8-21, the FDA issued an Evusheld EUA for those with severe immunosuppression.
- On 2-25-22, the dosage doubled due to BA.2. Prior recipients need an additional shot.
- People with certain cancers or organ transplants receive the highest priority.
- DeSantis announced it on 12-17-21, when Covid was raging through Miami-Dade County.
- First shipments only to a small private fee-based clinic in Broward County on 12-24-21.
- People flew from out of state to receive it at the iCare Clinic.
- The large transplant hospital in Miami was to receive it four weeks later.
- During Jan 24–30, 2022 the federal government sent 32,000 outpatient treatments.
- During Mar 14–20, 2022, the federal government is sending enough highly effective doses to treat 11,400 Floridians at high risk for severe Covid.
Florida Covid Hospitalizations:
- You won’t find any hospitalization info on Florida’s Weekly Reports since 6-24-21.
- Florida must relay all hospitalization data to the US Dept of Health and Human Services.
- Florida rose to 21st in rank among states for adults, with a 15% drop in hospitalizations.
- For August 1, 2020– March 14, 2022, 8.9% of all US Covid hospitalizations were in FL (6.6% of US population). That includes over 407,865 people.
- On the March 17th CDC update, data for Florida is included only through March 14th.
- For March 8–14, 2022, there were 218 admissions/day (1,523), 26% less in a week.
- On March 14th, there were 0.86 new admissions/100,000 Floridians; 1.01 the week before.
- Hospitalizations declined for every age group, ranging from 6% for ages for ages 18–29 to 19% for ages 0–17.
- Compared to delta, omicron admissions are higher for younger than 30 and older than 69.
- Last week, pediatric admissions declined by 3% to 21/day.
- Florida’s pediatric hospitalization rank rose from 30th to 21st.
- 22% more adults in hospital with Covid on March 17th,compared to Dec 3rd.
- Percentage of people in the hospital who required care in the ICU rose slightly to 19%.
- 31 children were in Florida hospitals, a drop of 1; however, admissions declined by 36% to 21/day.
- Children had experienced a 203% rise during the last week of December.
- Only 5% more pediatric hospitalizations than on Dec 3rd.
- One in 8 admissions were for children, down from one in 7 a week ago.
- On 3-18-22, 78% of hospital beds in Florida were full, down 1% from the prior week; 3% used by Covid patients.
- Covid patients accounted for 1,488 of them, 30% fewer patients than a week earlier.
- 4% of ICU beds were used by 199 Covid patients, 22% fewer than the previous week.
- Overall, 73% of ICU beds are occupied in the state, down from 75%.
- 1/3 are admitted for Covid diagnosis; 1/3 for Covid worsening an underlying condition; and one-third for reasons unrelated to their viral infection.
Until January 1, 2022, Florida was the only state in the US which was releasing statistics on a weekly basis. Several states have switched to that schedule in the last week. Information available in Florida’s reports is far more limited than what the state formerly provided.
On October 18th, I followed the Dept of Health’s recommendation to contact their COVID Data Analytics section, then went outside. When I returned, I had to do a major recovery process following an unauthorized attempt to access my hard drive. I still have not received a response from the FL COVID Data Analytics group. Even the main site for the Florida Dept of Health appears on an unsecure connection: www.floridahealth.gov.
On March 11th, my computer was able to download the official Florida Covid report for the first time since October 2021:
While it’s no longer banned as a security risk, it’s still on an unsecure connection. The overall Covid response site has a secure one. Currently, the only Covid information available from the state is in the March 4–10, 2022 report.
Meanwhile faculty at the University of Florida charge that they have felt external pressure from the highest levels of state government to delete data related to their Covid research.
They also encountered “barriers to accessing and analyzing” data and “barriers to publication of scientific research which inhibited the ability of faculty to contribute scientific findings during a world-wide pandemic.”
On January 21, 2022, a federal judge sided with the plaintiffs in a 74-page ruling. He asserted the University of Florida was “willing to suffer threats to its accreditation, congressional inquiries, unrelenting bad press, an all-but-certain hit to its rankings, and the substantial monetary cost of hiring an experienced D.C. firm to defend its policy. The only thing UF will not do, it seems, is amend its policy to make clear that it will never consider viewpoint in denying a request to testify.” As in The Emperor’s New Clothes, the emperor’s lords, “fearing the loss of their jobs and the Emperor’s good grace, enabled the charade by praising the Emperor’s fine suit.”
Dr. Jason Salemi from the University of South Florida is compiling data from the CDC, so I will rely heavily upon that in this week’s report. Even he does not have direct access to the Florida data:
Here is some of the data from March 11–16, 2022 which the state submitted to the CDC. Note there is one day which overlaps into last week’s report.
Estimated numbers are derived from adding the new CDC information to the previous report and subtracting the data from March 10. This covers six days, rather than seven for just this week:
- New cases = 8,036; Estimated cumulative cases = 5,831,401
- Positivity rate = unavailable
- New deaths = unavailable; Cumulative deaths = 71,860 as of March 10,2020
- Vaccination rate = unavailable, 74% last week
- Fully vaccinated people minus those with booster shots = unavailable, 8,222,070 on 3-10-22
- Total booster doses: unavailable, 5,078,229 on 3-10-22
This data from March 4–10, 2022, came from Dr. Salemi’s archives. During October 14, 2021–March 11, 2022, my browser would not download the FL Dept of Health Weekly Report, citing it as a security risk. Nevertheless, you would not find any archived Covid information on the FL Dept of Health site:
Here is some of the data from March 4–10, 2022:
- New cases = 10,288; Cumulative cases = 5,824,728
- Positivity rate = 2.4%
- New deaths = 87; Cumulative deaths = 71,860
- Vaccination rate = 74%
- Fully vaccinated people minus those with booster shots = 8,222,070
- Total booster doses: 5,078,229
Note that archived data on influenza statistics is readily available on the FL Dept of Health web site: Florida Influenza Surveillance Reports 2001–2022
On February 25, 2022, the CDC updated their masking guidelines based upon a combination of Covid hospital admissions and utilization as well as the number of new cases in a county. They range from low (green) through medium (yellow) to high risk (orange). Rural areas without hospital services may look better than they are.
You can click on the hyperlink below this for more specific information and the interactive map. This is the situation as of March 17, 2022. Counties near Tallahassee have dropped to medium risk; those in the Tampa area are reduced to low:
In areas of high alert, the CDC advises everyone to wear a high-quality tight-fitting mask indoors. Please note that this masking guideline does not apply to severely immunocompromised people who do not develop immunity from vaccination.
One researcher has created a helpful calculator for those in that category. It assumes that everyone eligible receives the pre-exposure treatment called Evusheld. He also concluded the CDC’s map is accurate for those with healthy immune systems.
On March 2, 2022, Governor DeSantis visited Hillsborough County. As he approached a group of masked high school students, he said, “You do not have to wear those masks. I mean, please take them off. Honestly, it’s not doing anything and we’ve gotta stop with this COVID theater. So, if you want to wear it, fine, but this is ridiculous.”
He then used that outburst to raise campaign funds.
Hillsborough County had a high alert level for Covid before and after that date:
Florida Covid Vaccinations:
Data is unavailable for this week.
Receiving a booster shot is considered extremely important for providing protection against the omicron variant. Since I created this chart, researchers have discovered that booster efficacy begins to wane at ten weeks:
Efficacy at Peak of Protection: Booster Efficacy Wanes 15% to 20% After Ten Weeks
For all adults in the US, the CDC has added people who received booster shots as a separate category.
For those 18–49 years old during January 23–29, 2022, unvaccinated people were hospitalized at a rate of 23.3/100,000. A primary vaccine course prevented 67% of expected hospitalizations. Adding a booster shot increased the protection to 84%:
Unvaccinated people aged 50–64 were hospitalized at a rate of 72.4/100,000. Those who finished a vaccine series had 73% fewer hospitalizations than expected. A booster dose prevented 92% of hospitalizations:
Results for that same week for senior citizens showed that unvaccinated individuals required hospital care at a rate of 305.6/100,000. Completing a vaccine series reduced the likelihood of needing hospitalization by 77%. Adding a booster prevented 94% of hospitalizations which would have occurred without vaccination:
On January 14, 2022, Governor DeSantis’s office announced it would not enforce the federal government’s vaccine mandate for healthcare workers. The US Supreme Court upheld the requirement for all healthcare facilities which receive federal funds on the 13th.
On January 19th, the Florida Department of Health placed the epidemiologist who led Orange County’s pandemic response on administrative leave. The state considered charging him with a criminal offense for sending an email chiding the county’s public health employees for their 40% vaccination rate. That suspension will end on March 22, 2022.
A day later, Governor DeSantis promoted a conspiracy theory by asserting that many nurses are avoiding vaccination because “they’re trying to have families.” Numerous studies confirm that vaccination does not cause infertility; in fact, getting Covid can reduce male fertility.
On March 7, 2022, a discussion panel moderated by Governor DeSantis recommended against Covid vaccination for healthy children due to the risk of adolescent males developing myocarditis. The state surgeon general noted that Florida is the only state to make such a declaration.
At least four researchers cited by the state disagreed with how Florida officials used their work.
A pediatrics professor from Vanderbilt University Medical Center who co-authored one of the papers said, “I think there is cherry-picking of sentences to support what (the state) wanted. You don’t just pick one sentence from one paper that agrees with what you think you want to say. That’s not what a health department is supposed to do.”
Each of the studies Florida officials cited recommended Covid vaccination for children as safe and effective. Florida health officials omitted that information in their updated guidelines. The researchers asserted that vaccination remains the best way to protect children from severe Covid.
In contrast to the myocarditis arising from vaccination, the inflammation resulting from SARS-CoV-2 can cause life-threatening heart conditions in children, adolescents, and adults:
This graphic predates the omicron variant, which is even more severe for children.
Young men are six times as likely to develop myocarditis from a Covid infection than from vaccination, at a rate of 450 per million. Cardiac injury from the virus tends to be more severe than vaccine-induced myocarditis.
Since the pandemic began, 13,000 Florida minors have required hospitalization for Covid in Florida alone as of a week ago. Forty-two had died, and many of the survivors have subsequently developed serious health conditions, like diabetes. While children are at lower risk than adults, throughout the US, Covid is one of the top ten causes of death in those aged 5–11.
At the height of the omicron wave, unvaccinated children aged 5–11 in the US were hospitalized at three times the rate of their vaccinated peers. By the end of January, that gap narrowed to two times:
The data for adolescents reveals why booster doses are recommended for that age group. On January first, unvaccinated teens aged 12–17 were four times as likely to need hospital care than those who had been vaccinated. By the end of January, there was only a 5% difference:
Compare the FDA’s announcement for eligibility in children to what Florida says it is:
Covid Deaths in Florida:
During June 2021–February 2022, Florida has reported only 6,760 of the 34,589 Covid deaths among permanent residents as “New Deaths” (20%):
Despite making national news for the state government’s attempt to cover up the number of deaths, nothing has changed in the Florida Department of Health’s methodology.
On June 4th, the state removed all data from anyone who has not established permanent residency and stopped reporting information from visitors, seasonal residents, and migrant workers. This deleted 744 deaths. I can no longer access this file, as my browser deems it a security risk:
As of March 19th, Florida has not issued a report showing deaths in the state since March 10, 2022.
When the state receives a report of a death from an earlier week, that information is added to “Cumulative Deaths” without being noted in “Previous Week Deaths.” It usually takes more than one week for death reports to get sent to the state.
Current CDC data reported by Florida shows 1 New Death on March 17th, with a daily average of 10 new deaths. That would give us 70 for the last week:
However, during March 11th–17th, Hillsborough County alone had 63 deaths reported to the CDC, an increase of 5% from the prior week (60):
As of March 10, 2022, Florida reported 71,860 Cumulative Deaths in the state:
According to CDC data, there had been 72,704 Covid deaths in Florida by March 17, 2022. Therefore, for March 11–17, 2022, there were 880 Covid deaths reported in Florida, an increase of 2% compared to the previous week (863). As noted above, Florida reported 70 of them as “New Deaths” to the CDC (8%):
Florida residents at least sixteen years old became eligible for vaccination on April 1, 2021. SARS-CoV-2 infections have killed 38,513 permanent residents of the state since that date to March 10, 2022. Over half the Covid deaths in Florida have occurred since then.
Despite having only 6.6% of the US population, this represents 9.4% of all American Covid-19 deaths since everyone at least 16 years old qualified for vaccination:
Florida’s Covid death rate ranks third in the US since the delta wave began on July 1, 2021. You can click on the web site map to see the information for each state:
Nationwide, 7.5% of senior citizens who have tested positive have died. The percentage of Florida’s senior citizens who have died is unavailable, as is the death rate for seniors who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2:
Florida does not report deaths by vaccination status, so I cannot determine the percentage of deaths occurring in unvaccinated people, those who received a full series, or boosted individuals.
The CDC recently updated their algorithm for calculating excess deaths in the US to include six years of data, rather than four, due to the pandemic skewing the expected numbers. It accounts for the higher than typical age of Florida’s population.
You can click on each bar on their site to see the data for that week. It takes up to eight weeks for complete reporting:
Here is another way to visualize that chart. You can see all states by clicking Percent Excess Deaths on the CDC’s site:
Florida has a higher than expected proportion of excess deaths compared to other states. This is the total number of excess deaths throughout the pandemic, not the number per 100,000 people. California has 70% more people than Florida yet the number of excess deaths is nearly the same:
Ten weeks ago, Florida improved from the deepest shade of blue for the first time since I began downloading this graphic.
If you go to the CDC’s site and click on Florida, you will see on the March 19th update that only 53 deaths are reported for the last 7 days, despite 880 when comparing the state report during March 4–10, 2022 and CDC cumulative deaths for March 17, 2022. The other large states have much higher numbers for the week.
Florida now ranks second for the highest proportion of Covid deaths among the six largest states: CA (220); TX (294); FL (338); NY (245); PA (343); IL (295):
Covid Cases in Florida:
The CDC reported 5,832,763 cumulative Covid cases in Florida on March 17. On the March 10th report, Florida reported 5,824,728 cumulative cases among permanent residents.
Comparing these two data sets, gives us an estimate of 8,035 new cases, a 22% decrease from the prior week (10,288):
However, the CDC page which reports results from individual counties notes an aggregate of 8,456 new cases in Florida, a decrease of 18%.
In the past, the county view has matched what the state reports for individual county cases, so this is likely accurate.
On the other hand, the number of deaths for the entire state is about half what is reported for Hillsborough County:
Finding this for several counties decreases my confidence further. According to the CDC, “Some data are suppressed to protect individuals’ privacy.”
Following six weeks of large increases since the omicron variant was first detected, Florida began a downward trajectory nine weeks ago.
Assuming the statistic from the CDC’s aggregate county information is accurate, our number of new cases is 12% lower than before the omicron wave began (9,642 reported on 11-19-21).
This uncertainty may be why Johns Hopkins University reports no cases for the past week:
On June 4th, the state removed all data from anyone who has not established permanent residency and stopped reporting information from visitors, seasonal residents, and migrant workers. This deleted 43,535 cases. I can no longer access this file, as my browser deems it a security risk:
Public health officials recommend maintaining a positivity rate less than 5% for two weeks before reopening.
As of last week, we had reached that goal on a state-wide level. However, that data is unavailable for this week:
To determine county case numbers and positivity rates in Florida this week, you can access the CDC data.
In Hillsborough County, there were 567 confirmed cases, 14% fewer than a week earlier. The county positivity rate is 1.5%, a decrease of 0.8%:
Dr. Salemi‘s county-level case data used to be quite helpful. However, he does not appear to have access to that information for March 11–17, 2022.
We do not have information regarding the number of children who tested positive during March 11–17, 2022.
Children aged 5+ are eligible for a series of two Pfizer doses. Booster shots are approved for anyone at least 12 years old who had a second shot of an mRNA vaccine over five months ago or got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine two months ago. Those aged 12–17 are limited to the Pfizer vaccine.
This school year began on August 10th, and the Hillsborough County School District instituted a mandatory mask mandate on August 18th. They ended it on October 15th. Florida law prohibits requiring masks in non-medical settings and now leaves the decision about quarantining after a close contact at school to the child’s parents.
A study of schools with more than 1.1 million students and 157,000 staff members determined a 72% drop of in-school Covid transmission occurred with mandatory mask policies instead of optional or partial masking.
The Hillsborough County School District published a notice effective January 31, 2022:
“The Florida Department of Health has shifted COVID-19 case investigation focus to: ‘high-congregate settings’ (nursing homes/skilled nursing/assisted living facilities, correctional facilities, homeless shelters, group homes) at high risk for secondary transmission or poor health outcomes among their residents as a result of COVID-19 infection. Public schools and daycare settings are not considered congregate settings.”
During the week leading up to that announcement 38,629 school-aged children in Florida had tested positive.
On January 26th, the Orange County School District announced that the state will no longer permit excused absences for Covid effective January 31st. Children who quarantine after a Covid exposure will be considered truant:
In the Hillsborough County School District, as of March 8, 2022, there had been 28,040 cases during this school year. Spring Break occurred during March 11–18, so there is no new data. There were 27 cases reported during March 4–10, 2022:
My daughters’ high school has had 144 cases and our middle school has had 146, with none of those in the last five weeks. Our elementary school has had 184, with none occurring in the last four weeks. None had been reported for several weeks before the fall semester ended.
Covid Therapeutics in FL:
Until January 8th, the state continued to emphasize monoclonal antibody treatment as the focus of the Covid-19 Response web site.
Mutations which have resulted in the omicron variant render ineffective almost all the monoclonal antibodies currently in use, including the antibody combination used in Regeneron against the delta variant (imdevimab and casirivimab).
In the US, 100% of cases are now due to the omicron strains. Six weeks ago, 98% were omicron:
There was only one monoclonal antibody produced in the US which can attach to circulating omicron BA.1 particles. Sotrovimab works against the original omicron variant at a dosage three times that required to neutralize the delta variant and is given in two injections at the same visit.
Seven weeks ago, hospitals in Florida used 140 of the state’s stockpile of 4,400 Sotrovimab doses, in contrast to over 2,700 doses of the ineffective Regeneron monoclonal antibody.
On January 18th, the state announced the opening of additional monoclonal antibody infusion centers to distribute what remained of the 15,000 additional doses of Regeneron secured on January 7th.
Tampa Bay Times: Omicron Undermines Florida’s Strategy to Combat Coronavirus: Gov. Ron DeSantis Continues to Tout Monoclonal Antibody Therapies, but New Evidence Shows Their Effectiveness Against COVID-19 Is Waning
A week later, the FDA revised its Emergency Use Authorizations for the two components of Regeneron, prohibiting their use against the omicron variant. The federal government stopped shipping those monoclonal antibodies.
Why the state continues to emphasize this is mystifying:
Governor DeSantis accused the Biden Administration of having no clinical evidence, despite the manufacturers of both antibodies noting they are now ineffective:
Currently, there is some controversy over whether Sotrovimab works against the omicron BA.2 subvariant. One study deems it 27 times less effective against BA.2 than for BA.1.
In this map, purple represents the original omicron variant while pink shows the amount of omicron BA.2. During March 5–12, the percentage of BA.2 increased from 7.0% to 12.4% in the region which includes Florida:
A clinical trial shows that a different monoclonal antibody called Bebtelovimab neutralizes omicron BA.1 and omicron BA.2.
Accordingly, on February 10, 2022, the US Department of Health and Human Services announced the purchase of enough to treat 600,000 people. Florida received its first shipment four weeks ago.
Here is the most recent federal allocation of 18,200 Covid-specific treatments to Florida:
2,400 post-exposure Bebtelovimab (for all omicron types)
2,600 post-exposure Sotrovimab for omicron variants except for BA.2
6,500 of the oral Paxlovid; and 6,800 of the less-effective oral Molnupiravir None of the Covid pre-exposure Evusheld is being delivered nationwide:
On December 8, 2021, the FDA issued an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for Evusheld, a monoclonal antibody developed to protect people over the age of 12 with severe immunosuppression against infection.
Due to the scarce supply, people with certain cancers or who have received organ transplants receive the highest priority.
Governor DeSantis announced the new preventative was available on December 17th, when Covid was raging through Miami-Dade County.
However, the first shipments went to a small private fee-based clinic in Broward County, not to a major medical center. People flew from out of state to receive it.
A spokesperson for the state claimed the iCare Clinic received priority because it was open on Christmas and New Year’s Day.
Jackson Memorial, the hospital in Miami with the most transplant patients in FL, was to receive it four weeks later.
Evusheld appears to remain effective against the omicron BA.2 subvariant. However, due to that subvariant, the FDA amended the EUA on February 24, 2022, to double the dosage of each component of Evusheld.
People who had already received it should contact their physicians about an additional shot. The FDA is now uncertain how long the immunity conferred by Evusheld will last.
Florida Covid Testing:
On January 3, 2022, the Florida Surgeon General decried the “testing psychology” which seeks to identify all Covid cases to slow the rate of community transmission.
Amidst the scandal which erupted on January 7th concerning the 1,000,000 expired antigen tests, Florida’s web site shifted its focus to testing. Specifically, that people who are not high-risk should avoid it.
On January 6th, the governor announced the state is shipping 1,000,000 test kits to long-term care and nursing facilities:
On February 7th, the Florida Department of Health officially reprimanded two testing companies which failed to report the results of 230,000 Covid tests taken during December and January.
Covid Hospitalizations in Florida:
You won’t find any hospitalization information on Florida’s Weekly Surveillance Reports. Florida stopped reporting Covid hospitalizations on June 24, 2021. However, Florida must relay all hospitalization data to the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Florida reported a record 13,028 hospitalizations for Covid-19 on August 24, 2021, to the US Department of Health and Human Services.
Since the omicron variant became predominant, hospital officials are seeing more incidental Covid cases among people who are in the hospital. Roughly one-third are admitted for a primary diagnosis of Covid; one-third for a Covid infection making an underlying condition worse; and one-third for reasons unrelated to their viral infection.
Last fall, Florida had the highest adult hospitalization rate in the US. Until ten weeks ago, Florida had remained the second best (ending at 8.9/100,000) for seven weeks. Last week, Florida rose to 21st from 28th in rank among states (from 8.0/100,000 to 6.8/100,000, a 15% decline):
Florida’s pediatric hospitalization rank rose from 30th to 21st, with only a 3% decline (from 0.75/100,000 to 0.73/100,000):
For August 1, 2020–March 14, 2022, Florida has had 408,497 new hospital admissions for Covid patients. This represents 8.9% of all Covid admissions in the US for 6.6% of the US population: Note this goes only to March 14th for Florida, even on the March 17th update.
On a national level, hospitalization data is posted through March 17th:
For March 8–14, 2022, there was an average of 184 admissions per day, a total of 1,523.
Overall, there was a decrease of 26% from the previous week (2,243; 248/day) and 90% fewer compared to the peak during August 11–17, 2021, when there were 10.42 admissions/100,000 Floridians.
You can find more detailed hospitalization statistics on the same CDC COVID Data Tracker, choosing Florida as the Jurisdiction and stratifying by any age. This is also for March 8–14:
On March 14, 2022, hospitalizations had declined for every adult age group compared to March 7th, ranging from 6% for ages for ages 18–29 to 17% for ages 70+. Except for ages 50–59, the amount of decrease corresponded to increasing age.
Nine weeks earlier, hospitalizations had increased for every adult age group, ranging from 4% for ages 18–29 to 60% for people over 70.
For that same period, pediatric admissions declined by 19%, compared to 51% three weeks ago. Children had experienced a 203% rise during the last week of December.
Compared to the delta variant wave we encountered in 2021, omicron admissions have been higher for people younger than 30 and older than 69.
On March 14th, there were 0.86 new admissions/100,000 Floridians; 1.01 the week before:
After seven weeks of increases, the number of adults in the hospital started to decline eight weeks ago. On March 17th, that number had fallen another 15% to 1,183. That is still 22% more than on December 3rd (968).
New adult admissions have dropped by 30% to 145/day during the past week. The proportion of adults needing care in the ICU rose slightly to 19%.
Pediatric hospitalizations are 3% lower than last week, with 31 children in Florida hospitals on March 17, 2022.
There were 21 pediatric admissions/day, 36% fewer than as a week ago and only 5% higher than on December 3rd (20). One in 8 admissions are for children, down from one in 7 on March 10th:
HHS tracks Hospital Utilization. On the morning of March 18, 2022, 78% of hospital beds in Florida were full, down 1% from last week. Covid patients accounted for 1,488 of them (3% of utilized beds, the same as last week).
A week earlier, there were 1,810 hospitalized Covid patients, so there were 18% fewer inpatients with Covid:
Four percent of ICU beds in use in Florida were used by 199 Covid patients, 22% fewer than the previous week (256). The percentage of ICU beds were used by Covid patients remained the same.
Overall, 73% of ICU beds are occupied in the state, compared to 75% a week earlier:
Many hospitals are publishing their own occupancy statistics. For example, Tampa General Hospital released this on March 18th:
- There were 21 Covid-19 admissions, down from 29 a week before
- Five Covid patients were in their ICU, down from 8 a week earlier
Archived posts on Florida Covid statistics are available here