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Florida Surges On With 15,000 New Cases, Vaccine Booked Up: Your Tuesday Update

Gov. Ron DeSantis at South Seminole Hospital Monday.
Gov. Ron DeSantis at South Seminole Hospital Monday.

Florida Continues Record-Breaking Surge With 15,000 Cases

Florida added 15,193 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday, continuing a record-breaking surge of the pandemic.

Florida’s daily average is now 13,788 new COVID-19 cases per day, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University analyzed by NPR. That’s a 43 percent increase compared to a week ago.

And the increased caseload is starting to strain Florida’s hospitals. As of Tuesday afternoon, 7,348 people were hospitalized in Florida with a COVID-19 diagnosis - a 30 percent increase from two weeks ago.

Statewide, 57 hospitals report having zero intensive care unit beds, including eight hospitals in Osceola, Seminole and Volusia counties.

Since the start of the pandemic, 1.3 million Floridians have contracted COVID-19 and 22,090 have died.

The Institute for Health Metrics and Economic estimates 10,000 more deaths in Florida by April 1.

Orlando Health Books 20,000 COVID-19 Vaccines, All Appointments Taken: Your Tuesday Update

Orlando Health has booked up all 20,000 of its COVID-19 vaccine appointments.

Orlando Health began offering the COVID-19 vaccine to those outside the hospital system Monday. A total of 20,000 appointments were booked on the first day.

"Orlando Health is on its way to vaccinating 30,000 Central Floridians to protect them from COVID-19," the hospital system said in a statement. "All appointments are now taken, but we will open more when we receive additional doses. Keep checking OrlandoHealth.com/COVIDVaccine for updates on our expanding vaccination program."

Gov. Ron DeSantis was at South Seminole Hospital in Longwood Monday for the launch. He said hospitals delivering the vaccine is one part of a broader strategy, which will include providing vaccines at state-run testing sites.

“Anything the state of Florida is doing is open seven days a week," DeSantis said. "So if you have a drive-thru site down in Miami, we want that open seven days a week. And I’ve also asked the hospitals to consider expanding their services to seven days a week.

The governor also says the state will partner with churches to get their members vaccinated. The state will also help supplement Walgreens and CVS, which have federal contracts to provide vaccines in nursing homes.

Orlando Health said it plans to begin offering the vaccine next week to people under the age of 65 with medical conditions that make them more vulnerable to COVID-19. DeSantis said the state will hire an extra 1,000 nurses to help administer the COVID-19 vaccine and will begin doing vaccinations at state-run testing sites.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, Florida has used less than 25 percent of the 1.1 million vaccine doses it has received.

“I want to be clear on one very important point: Hospitals that don’t do a good job of getting the vaccine out will have their allocations transferred to hospitals that are doing a good job in getting the vaccine out," DeSantis said. "We do not want vaccine to be idle.”

Florida is preparing to receive 127,100 doses of the Moderna vaccine, the state announced Monday. It said 93,900 doses of the vaccine will be distributed to the county health departments that have not previously received doses of a COVID-19 vaccine and 33,200 doses of the Moderna vaccine will be sent to 54 hospitals that had not previously received the COVID-19 vaccine.