South Florida doctors stage walkout amid surge in unvaccinated COVID-19 patients

A group of 75 South Florida doctors staged a symbolic walkout on Monday to highlight a surge in unvaccinated COVID-19 patients hospitalized in the state, according to a report.

The doctors who participated in the demonstration in Palm Beach Gardens cited fatigue and frustration with misinformation that has contributed to vaccine hesitancy in the state. Some of the doctors briefly walked out of their shifts to participate in the protest.

“It’s incredibly frustrating because we know the vaccines are safe and effective and it’s people that go out and talk against them that really go against physicians and medicine and science. It’s not the message we want to get across to people,” JT Snarkski, one of the doctors who participated in the walkout, told MSNBC. “Vaccines are safe and we need to get our communities vaccinated.”

Many Florida hospitals are nearing capacity in their intensive care units as the state contends with a surge of COVID-19 cases due to the delta variant. As of this week, about 86% of the state’s hospital beds were full, prompting alarm from public health officials.

About 63% of Florida residents have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to data from the Mayo Clinic. About 51% are fully vaccinated.

The FDA granted full approval for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine on Monday in a move public health officials have touted as crucial to reduce hesitancy. 

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has engaged in frequent public clashes with the White House over his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. DeSantis enacted a ban on mask mandates within the state.

Earlier this month, DeSantis mobilized a “rapid response unit” this week to administer monoclonal antibody treatments to COVID-19 patients in a bid to ease pressure on hospitals. 

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