Let us stop the spread of virus in Florida
Florida is now the leading US state in per capita hospitalizations for COVID-19, and hospitals all over the state report having to put emergency room visitors in beds in the hallways and unfortunately, we are witnessing reports of drop in average patient age. In the past week alone, Florida has averaged 1,525 adult hospitalizations per day. This is currently the highest per capita rate in the country. The spike in hospitalizations and the increasing number of cases can be attributed to the more transmittable delta variant of COVID-19, which has spread throughout Florida, especially after people returned to their pre-pandemic routines.
Hospitals have become overwhelmed all throughout Florida to the point that local hospitals are diverting ambulances to other hospitals because of capacity issues. There is also a startling rise in the number of children with COVID-19 at hospitals in Miami, and many of these children require intensive care. About half of them were under 12 years of age, the rest were older and eligible for the vaccine, but none were vaccinated. About a month ago, it looked like the situation was getting under control, as people got vaccinated and the number of hospitalizations decreased. However, during the summer, due to the new delta variant and lax protocols, hospitalizations surged and contributed greatly to the pandemic curve in Florida.
With COVID-19 cases surging due to the more contagious delta variant, school boards in Florida voted to require students, teachers, and school staff to wear masks and facial coverings inside schools, whether they are vaccinated or not. While vaccinated people are very unlikely to be hospitalized or die from COVID-19, they can still spread the virus to those who have not yet been vaccinated. This prompted the CDC to issue new guidance and recommend universal indoor masks for all students, teachers, staff, and visitors to schools, regardless of their vaccination status.
The World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention recommend wearing face masks to limit the spread of COVID-19 as there is clear evidence that masks help prevent the spread of the virus - and the more people wear masks - the better the infection can be contained. Studies show that mask mandates led to a slowdown in the rate of daily COVID-19 growth, and this slowdown became more apparent over time. After the first five days of a mandate, the growth rate slowed by 0.9% compared to five days prior to the mandate, and at three weeks the daily growth rate slowed by 2%. Another study looked at the number of COVID-19 deaths across 198 countries and found that countries with government policies that favor face masks had lower death rates.
In comparing various mask materials and types of masks, the most important consideration may be comfort. The best mask is one that can be worn consistently and comfortably. N95 and surgical masks offer more protection than cloth masks, and some people prefer them as they are lighter and more comfortable to wear. But the bottom line is that any mask that covers the nose and mouth properly will be of benefit, and it reduces the risk of contracting COVID-19 significantly. Safety remains the highest priority, and wearing face masks outside the home is recommended to stop the spread of COVID-19, especially with the rapid spread of the delta variant in Florida.