As Florida coronavirus deaths climb, DeSantis' 'herd immunity strategy fully takes shape,' says critics

In addition to the 24,004 resident deaths, 376 non-residents have died in the state.

click to enlarge As Florida coronavirus deaths climb, DeSantis' 'herd immunity strategy fully takes shape,' says critics
Photo via DeSantis/Twitter

With a surge of 1,200 reported COVID-19 deaths during the past week, Florida on Saturday exceeded 24,000 resident deaths since the pandemic started last year.

The reported number of resident deaths stood at 24,004 on Saturday, up from 22,804 a week earlier, according to state Department of Health numbers. The total included 205 newly reported deaths Saturday.

The latest milestone came after cases and deaths have surged in Florida during the fall and early winter and as Gov. Ron DeSantis has focused on vaccinating seniors, who are particularly vulnerable to the virus. DeSantis has said relatively little about the soaring numbers of cases and deaths while touting the vaccination efforts.

“Florida has now vaccinated more than 500,000 seniors --- far outpacing other states in the nation that are reporting updates on this critical effort,” he said in a video released by his office Friday. “This accounts for 60% of all Florida’s total vaccinations, and that percent is increasing with each week.”

But state Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, a Democrat who is widely considered a potential election challenger to DeSantis is 2022, sent an email through her political committee Saturday that blasted the Republican governor.

“Floridians are suffering as Governor Ron DeSantis' herd immunity strategy fully takes shape,” the email said. “We must continue to wear masks, keep distance, and avoid crowds to protect ourselves and each other as infections continue to skyrocket.”

Florida has had 1,560,186 reported COVID-19 cases since the pandemic started, according to a Saturday report by the Department of Health. In addition to the 24,004 resident deaths, 376 non-residents have died in the state.

The numbers of deaths and cases have surged in recent months. As an example, the state on Oct. 16 reported 748,437 cases and 15,830 deaths of Florida residents. That means the number of cases has more than doubled in three months, while the number of deaths has increased by more than 50 percent. 

Long-term care facilities have been hard-hit throughout the pandemic, with 8,813 reported deaths of residents and staff members as of Saturday. Most of those deaths have involved residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

The largest numbers of deaths have been in heavily populated Southeast Florida. Miami-Dade County had 4,561 resident deaths as of Saturday, while Palm Beach County had 2,033 and Broward County had 1,957, according to the Department of Health.

Support local journalism in these crazy days. Our small but mighty team is working tirelessly to bring you up to the minute news on how Coronavirus is affecting Tampa and surrounding areas. Please consider making a one time or monthly donation to help support our staff. Every little bit helps.

Subscribe to our newsletter and follow @cl_tampabay on Twitter.

Scroll to read more Florida News articles
Join the Creative Loafing Tampa Bay Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state.
Help us keep this coverage going with a one-time donation or an ongoing membership pledge.


Join Creative Loafing Tampa Bay Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Creative Loafing Tampa Bay. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Creative Loafing Tampa Bay, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at [email protected]