TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Calls are growing louder for Florida to reinstate a COVID emergency order. Two state senators urged Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday to take executive action as soon as possible.
DeSantis allowed the previous emergency order to expire on June 26. At that time, the state's positivity and case levels had remained low for weeks.
The latest data, however, now shows a new surge among unvaccinated residents. It comes as the highly infectious Delta variant continues to rage.
Florida now leads the nation in weekly case and death totals, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
The Department of Health & Human Services reported Florida hospitalizations are at 8,123, nearly what they were during the state's January 2021 peak of 8,233 and more than three-quarters of Florida's July 2020 peak of 10,179.
Physicians like Miami cardiologist Dr. Bernard Ashby worried hospitals were again at risk of becoming overwhelmed.
“This is basically like Groundhog's Day," Dr. Ashby said. "As you know, and many people know, what follows next is an increase in the death rate. So, I'm very concerned about that."
Sen. Shevrin Jones, D-Miami Gardens, and Sen. Annette Taddeo, D-Miami, said a new emergency order from the governor could help prevent that from happening.
"The governor has to lead in this moment," Jones said. "Right now, because this is not a Democrat or Republican issue."
A new order would free up funding, they said, to pay for increased hospital staffing and supplies. Also, like the previous, the declaration might expand telehealth and allow out-of-state health workers to treat Floridians without a Florida license.
"We have lives to save right here in Florida," Taddeo said. "If he really wants to have a future, politically, he should do the job he was elected to do, and that's to be the governor of Florida before he moves on to try and get an upgrade."
Taddeo formally requested the declaration in a letter on Tuesday.
Florida Sen. @Annette_Taddeo one of several lawmakers now calling on @GovRonDeSantis to issue a new state emergency order to deal with rising cases and hospitalizations. Her letter to the governor below: pic.twitter.com/eDhfyTOjUT— Forrest Saunders (@FBSaunders) July 27, 2021
DeSantis' staff, however, told us he has no plans to follow through. The Republican leader has called the recent surge "seasonal" and expected cases to decline in August.
"Look, this is a seasonal pattern," DeSantis said during a news conference earlier this month. "We knew as we got to the end of June and July it would go up. That's what happened last year. It's not unique to Florida. The Sun Belt has the similar thing."
DeSantis has become more vocal on vaccinations recently. He told the public last week that they save lives and said they remain the best way to prevent serious illness.