As the Covid-19 delta variant—which the CDC is calling "as contagious as chickenpox"—continues to spread at a rapid rate, hospitalizations are on the rise, too. Florida reported 12,408 hospitalizations on Wednesday, Aug. 4. At Sarasota Memorial Hospital, there are 140 Covid-positive patients in the hospital, four more than yesterday; of those patients, 32 are in the ICU. The hospital's seven-day positivity rate is currently 13 percent.

As of Aug. 3, Florida was averaging 17,629 cases per day, with Sarasota County averaging 202 new Covid-19 cases per day and Manatee County averaging 221 new cases per day.

At a press briefing Tuesday morning, White House Covid-19 response coordinator Jeffrey Zients said that one-third of all new Covid-19 cases in the U.S. last week came from Florida and Texas.

And University of South Florida professor of epidemiology Edwin Michael told The New York Times on Monday that cases in Florida are poised to explode. “We are predicting that the cases will be peaking the first week of September,” Michael said. "Our simulations show that if we don’t slow the hospitalizations, if we don’t prevent the wave of coming infections, we might exceed Florida’s bed capacity in early September."

However, as cases continue to surge, vaccinations are on the rise, too. The White House's Zients noted that there's been a 70 percent increase in average new daily vaccinations and a 50 percent increase in the average number of 12- to 17-year-olds getting the vaccine each day over the past two weeks. Physicians and public health officials continue to emphasize that vaccination is the easiest, safest way to mitigate the spread of the virus.

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