Florida facing 60% rise in COVID-19 cases driven by unvaccinated patients

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Hospitalizations due to COVID-19 in the central Florida area are 115% of their previous peak, according to the Florida Hospital Association. 

The rise, as many have noted, is due in part to two things: the percentage of unvaccinated people in each county and the contagious nature of the delta variant of the virus.

In Central Florida, this correlation is most evident when comparing Sumter County, where 69% of the population (over the age of 12) is vaccinated and only has a 15.6% positivity rate, with Volusia County having just a 56% vaccination rate and facing a 27% positive rate for COVID-19.

READ: Orange County opening second drive-thru COVID-19 testing site

“We are at a crisis point and need your help to keep each other, our offices, and our residents safe,” wrote Volusia County Manager George Recktenwald in an internal memo to county staff Wednesday. “Volusia County is currently a high transmission area. Accordingly, we are reinstating the mask requirement for all employees.”

While Volusia is going back to masks for employees and encouraging vaccinations, Orange County is mandating vaccines for non-union employees, even though its vaccination rate (63%) is higher and the percent-positive rate (18.2%) is lower than most of the rest of the state.

“We all are going to have to make adjustments and adapt as this virus has mutated and is now stronger,” said Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings as he reconvened the Economic Recovery Task Force.

READ: Marion County seeing more cases of people being reinfected with COVID-19

The spike in cases is being seen across central Florida but is most pronounced along the coast.

“We’re sort of in that disaster planning mode,” said Health First Dr. Jeffrey Stalnaker in a Brevard County press release. “Looking at some of the models, it would appear that we’re going to be in this as least well into August, so we’re putting contingencies in place to be able to manage that.”

Brevard has a positivity rate of 23.9% while just 58% of its population (12+) is vaccinated. This ratio has led to 23.6% of its ICU beds being used by COVID-19 patients.

READ: Orange County businesses contemplate COVID-19 vaccine mandates