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Florida sees COVID-19 surge in emergency rooms, near last winter’s peaks

According to current data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, rates of COVID-19 have increased dramatically in Florida emergency departments in recent weeks, approaching peaks not seen since the worst of the virus’s winter epidemic this past year.

According to CDC data published on Friday, Florida now has one of the highest weekly averages of COVID-19 emergency room visits of any state during this summer’s COVID-19 wave, at 2.64%.

In addition, trends from Florida have sharply increased in other important metrics—such as wastewater and nursing homes—that the authorities are currently using to monitor COVID-19.

The sharp rise of COVID-19 ER visits in Florida is similar to what has been observed in many western states where the virus has been on the rise recently.

While COVID-19 ER visits seem to have peaked in Hawaii, where rates of patients are at their highest point in more than a year, trends remain high throughout the West.

The CDC stated in a report on Wednesday that “over the past few weeks, some surveillance systems have shown small national increases in COVID-19; widespread as well as local surges are possible over the summer months.”

According to the CDC’s forecasters this week, the majority of states around the country are now expected to be witnessing an increase in COVID-19 infections.

In its weekly update on the virus released on Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that COVID-19 data from hospitals has also started to increase in an increasing number of states.

“Some areas of the country are experiencing consistent increases in COVID-19 activity, including increases in COVID-19 test positivity and emergency department visits and increases in rates of COVID-19–associated hospitalizations among adults 65+ at several sites,” according to the government.

In recent weeks, the FDA has been cautious in declaring that the summer COVID-19 spike of this year had arrived, pointing out that recent rises were following record low levels of the virus.

“This past winter, COVID-19 peaked in early January, declined rapidly in February and March, and by May 2024 was lower than at any point since March 2020,” the CDC reported.

Despite recent rises, rates of viral ER visits outside of Florida and the West are still well below prior peaks. The CDC reports that COVID-19 activity is still “low” nationally overall.

Since the start of the pandemic, COVID-19 activity has increased at least twice a year: once in the summer or early fall following a hiatus in the spring, and again in the winter as a result of novel viral strains.

Based on estimates released by the CDC on Friday, the closely related KP.2 and KP.3 varieties are currently dominating the country, accounting for over half of cases in recent weeks.

A variety of other variations have accelerated behind them. With 14.9% of cases, LB.1 is the second largest. Additionally, according to CDC estimates, a new variety known as KP.4.1 increased to 17.9% of cases through June 22 in the region that stretches from New Mexico through Louisiana.

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