JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Florida had the most new cases of COVID-19 in the nation over the last seven days and has the highest rate of hospitalizations per 100,000 people, according to a New York Times analysis of state and federal health data.
Florida also led the nation in per capita weekly cases, with 733 new cases per 100,000 population -- 3.5 times the national average of 205 -- according to Johns Hopkins University. The increase in cases is even higher in Northeast Florida, led by 1,484 cases per 100,000 over seven days in Columbia County -- the fourth-largest increase of any county in the nation and double the state’s already high average.
With a weekly average of 16,086 COVID patients in Florida hospitals, the state has the highest per capita rate of hospitalizations -- 75 per 100,000 population -- according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the only state with more than 25% of inpatient beds assigned to COVID patients.
Duval County is averaging 123 COVID-19 hospitalizations per 100,000 population. That represents one of every 813 residents in Jacksonville hospitalized with COVID-19.
Baker averaged 117 hospitalizations per 100,000, Nassau averaged 116, St. Johns was at 112, and Clay was at 108. Those five counties ranked among the nation’s 10 highest rates of hospitalization per capita, according to the New York Times.
“But I think that doesn’t really tell the picture,” Dr. Chirag Patel of UF Health said Wednesday. “The picture is how many of those people that are being tested for COVID or showing up as positive. We’re nearly 20% in Duval County, and what’s more frightening is all of the pediatric cases that we have tested over the past week at UF Health, 30% are coming back positive.”
In the latest data from CovKid Project, 1,210 of Florida’s hospitalized patients are age 19 or under -- the highest hospitalization rate for children in the nation.
Sixteen of those children on Wednesday morning were at Wolfson Children’s Hospital -- four of them in intensive care, according to the latest data from Baptist Health.
“We talked about in the past -- kids are more resilient and avoid contracting COVID,” Patel said. “We are not seeing that being the case anymore: 30% of kids being tested at UF Health are coming back positive for COVID.”
Hospitalizations in Northeast Florida appear to have peaked a week ago at the highest levels since the pandemic began, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expect that hospitalizations in both Florida and Georgia will continue to rise.