WASHINGTON — The federal government has sent hundreds of ventilators and other equipment to Florida this week to help the state respond to a record-breaking number of Covid hospitalizations.
The devices came from the federal government’s Strategic National Stockpile and included 200 ventilators and 100 smaller breathing devices and related supplies, according to an HHS official.
A record number of people have been hospitalized in Florida amid a surge in Covid infections largely being driven by the unvaccinated, public health officials have said.
On Tuesday, 14,787 people were hospitalized for Covid, 145 percent more than during the state’s previous peak in July 2020, according to the Florida Hospital Association. Nearly 90 percent of the state’s ICU beds were in use and 85 percent of all in patients beds were filled, the group said.
“There is this rapid accelerated rise that is unprecedented,” University of Florida Health Shands CEO Ed Jimenez said on MSNBC. At his hospital, 90 percent of the patients are unvaccinated, he said.
Requests for equipment from the stockpile are made by local and state health officials.
Gov. Ron DeSantis said he was unaware of the federal allocation when asked about it Tuesday by ABC Local10, which first reported on the ventilators.
“I have not heard about that, so I have to check to see if that’s true or not,” he told the station. “I would honestly doubt that that’s true, but I’ll look. We have a lot of stuff that we stockpiled over the last year and a half through the department of emergency management. I have not had any requests across my desk. I haven’t been notified of that.”
DeSantis has been in a sparring match with the Biden administration in recent days over his implementation of a ban on mask requirements. President Joe Biden said Tuesday that his administration is looking into whether there is any federal action that could be taken to allow Florida schools to require masks.
Last week, DeSantis alleged Biden’s immigration policies had led to the wave of Covid infections, not low vaccination rates.
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