Florida sees COVID-19 surge in emergency room visits nearly as high as last winter

Rates of COVID-19 Emergency room patients in Florida have surged in recent weeks, approaching levels seen during the worst days of last winter’s virus surge, according to new figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Florida’s weekly average of emergency department patients with COVID-19 has risen to 2.64%, among the highest rates of any state during this summer’s COVID-19 surge, according to CDC data updated Friday.

Florida also saw sharp increases in trends in other key metrics that authorities now use to track COVID-19, including wastewater and nursing homes.

CDC graph of COVID-19 patients in Florida emergency departments through July 2, 2024.

center for disease control and prevention

The sharp increase in the number of COVID-19 patients in Florida emergency rooms is reminiscent of that in some western stateswith the virus trends increasing in recent weeks.

The trend remains high in the West, although emergency room visits due to COVID-19 now appear to have peaked in Hawaii, where patient numbers are at their highest in more than a year.

“In recent weeks, some surveillance systems have shown small nationwide increases in COVID-19; both widespread and localized surges are possible during the summer months,” the CDC said in a bulletin issued Wednesday.

According to CDC meteorologists, most states are also expected to see an increase in COVID-19 cases this week.

Hospital COVID-19 numbers have also increased in a growing number of states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Friday in its weekly report on the virus.

“Some parts of the country are experiencing continued increases in COVID-19 activity, including increases in positive COVID-19 tests and emergency department visits, and increases in COVID-19-related hospitalizations among adults 65 years and older in several locations,” the agency said.

The agency has been cautious in recent weeks, saying that the COVID-19 peak of this summer has arrived, saying the recent increases were driven by record low virus levels.

“Last winter, COVID-19 peaked in early January, declined rapidly in February and March, and in May 2024 was at its lowest level since March 2020,” the CDC said.

Outside of Florida and the West, emergency department visits related to the virus remain far from previous peaks, despite recent increases. Overall, the CDC says COVID-19 activity nationwide remains “low.”

In previous years, COVID-19 activity has increased at least twice a year since the start of the pandemic, once in the summer or early fall after a dip in the spring, and then again in the winter, driven by new variants of the virus.

According to estimates released by the CDC on Friday, the closely related variants KP.2 and KP.3 are now dominant nationwide, accounting for more than half of the cases in recent weeks.

Behind them, a mix of other variants has accelerated. LB.1 is the next largest, at 14.9% of cases. And in the region spanning New Mexico to Louisiana, the CDC estimates a new variant called KP.4.1 has risen to 17.9% of infections through June 22.

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