Florida was running out of ICU beds at numerous hospitals Wednesday as COVID-19 cases continued to pile up by the tens of thousands and the Trump administration appeared powerless to stop it.
In Oklahoma, Gov. Kevin Stitt, a Republican who caught flak for posting a photo of himself eating with his kids in a crowded restaurant while COVID-19 was spreading through his state, announced Wednesday that he had tested positive for the virus.
The 67,507 new cases reported across the country Tuesday was the second highest daily number since the start of the pandemic, and states like Wisconsin (4,407), Nevada (1,104), Oklahoma (993) and Alaska (360) shattered their previous records for numbers of cases recorded in a single day.
July 15, 202006:35
The death toll nationwide as of Wednesday morning was 137,403 and climbing, with 3,454,352 cases reported, according to the latest NBC News tally.
Four states in particular — Florida, Texas, Arizona and California — continued to account for most of the new cases and deaths.
Florida, where the Republican convention is scheduled to be held next month, passed a dismal benchmark Wednesday with more than 300,000 cases of COVID-19 reported since the start of the pandemic.
More than 77,000 cases were logged just in the last seven days, bringing the total number in the state to 301,629, according to the Florida Department of Health.
There were also 112 more deaths, putting the state on track to hit 5,000 COVID-19 fatalities, the NBC News numbers showed.
Tuesday was the second deadliest day of the pandemic in Florida, with 133 fatalities — the most since July 1 when 145 were recorded, the new figures show.
Finding a bed for all those sick people became increasingly harder with the Agency for Health Care Administration reporting that 54 hospitals in the state now have zero available beds in their intensive care units and another 40 hospitals have less than 10 percent bed availability in their ICUs.
Ten of the hospitals where no ICU beds are left are in Miami-Dade, the most populous county in Florida and the state’s top coronavirus hotspot.
Stitt, during a news conference from his home, said that he received the diagnosis on Tuesday and that he feels a bit “achy” but otherwise fine. He said his wife and children tested negative.
Stitt, whose mantra was “business as usual” at the start of the pandemic, was at Trump’s rally in Tulsa last month where he was photographed not wearing a mask.
While Stitt gave no indication where he caught the bug, a number of Trump campaign staffers and others tested positive after attending the rally. And he said he has no plans to roll back Oklahoma’s reopening.
“Going back and bunkering in place doesn’t remove” the virus, Stitt said. “It’s way, way premature to think of slowing down or backing up” the reopening.
Medical experts say the main culprit behind the recent spike in COVID-19 cases appear to be younger people who don’t wear masks in public or practice social distancing.
That appears to be the case in Ohio, a state led by a Republican governor who took decisive action to flatten the curve well before the White House did and then saw the number of new cases rise in quadruple digits after it reopened.
Gov. Mike DeWine was expected later Wednesday to lay some tough talk on his Ohio constituents about “the current state of the coronavirus pandemic and the recent increases in cases and virus spread.”
“We are in a crisis stage in Ohio, and this can go one way or the other,” DeWine warned recently.
Nationwide, the patients doctors have been seeing of late are increasingly younger.
“We certainly have seen a shift,” Dr. Jeff Smith, chief operating officer at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, told MSNBC. “Early on in March and April, during our earlier peaks, we were seeing patients primarily in their 80s and 90s who were very, very ill. Now the majority of our hospitalized patients are between ages 40 and 50.”
While these younger patients tend to recover faster, the concern is they could infect “younger populations, or vulnerable populations, and transmit to the sick and the elderly,” Smith said.