U.S. President Joe Biden has finally hit his goal of having 70% of eligible Americans at least partially vaccinated against COVID-19. This major achievement came a month after Biden missed his July 4th deadline to get as many Americans protected from the disease.
Despite hitting the milestone, COVID-19 cases across the country are still surging with Florida now becoming the epicenter of the outbreak. The White House says one in three cases nationwide are in the sunshine state and Texas.
Over the weekend, Florida registered close to 21,700 new infections, the largest-ever single-day total recorded since January.
About 61% of the population in Florida are inoculated. But health officials point out that 96% of the people hospitalized were unvaccinated. Florida is now leading the nation in per capita hospitalizations. Hospitals around the state report having to put emergency room patients in beds in their hallways. "There’s definitely been an increase in COVID. I started noticing that we are getting more," shared nursing assistant Josh de Curtis. "I noticed that there are younger people coming in with COVID. Not super young, like 30s, 40s, like mid-30s type of age."
Francii Hotto, a young Fil-Am visitor to Florida, who came all the way from Arkansas, said that she's following safety precautions to protect herself from the virus. "I try to distance myself from people, especially strangers who I don’t really know. I haven’t really been around a lot of people. Just stick to my group."
Despite the surge in COVID cases, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed an executive order barring school districts from forcing students to wear masks when they return to school this August. DeSantis says it is the parents' choice to determine if they want their children to wear masks while on campus.
Tampa Bay Pinay Carly Laub definitely wants her daughter to mask up. "May mga parents na hindi naniniwala sa vaccine, hindi naniniwala sa COVID kasi nakausap namin yung principal at mga school teachers na talagang may mga matitigas na ulong magulang (There are parents who don't believe in the vaccine, who don't believe in COVID because we've spoken to the principal and school teachers and there are really hard-headed parents)."
But Laub's daughter is worried that her classmates may bully her for wearing a mask. The mother assured her, "don’t worry pag may nangyari sa iyo, pupunta kami sa school to talk to the teacher (don’t worry. If something happens to you, we will go to the school to talk to the teacher)."