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US Surgeon General 'deeply concerned' about rising COVID cases in Florida

Dr. Vivek Murthy told "CBS This Morning" that Floridians need to increase vaccination rates and continue mitigation efforts, like mask-wearing.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — As Florida is being called the latest epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy says we need to be prepared to switch our strategy.

When asked about the record-breaking numbers of cases and hospitalizations in the state, along with Gov. Ron DeSantis' opposition to restrictions and mask mandates, Murthy told "CBS This Morning," "I’m deeply concerned about what’s happening in Florida."

The Surgeon General said we have to be ready to increase vaccination rates while continuing mitigation efforts like mask-wearing and social distancing for the time being.

While we now know, based on CDC data, that both vaccinated and unvaccinated people can spread the virus, Murthy said vaccinated people are "in much, much, much better shape."

The risks of dying or being hospitalized from COVID-19 infection are dramatically lower for vaccinated people, according to the surgeon general, meaning it's still our best defense against curveballs like the delta variant.

When asked if the Biden administration plans to ask more schools and businesses to mandate vaccines, Murthy said it's not likely. 

Murthy said the Biden administration is working to slow the spread of the virus in its own backyard through requirements for federal workers, but we can expect more businesses, schools and healthcare systems to be putting COVID-19 restrictions in place of their own accord.

CDC data says Florida recorded 21,683 new cases on July 30, the most since the start of the pandemic. Previously, the highest single-day number the state reported was 19,816 on Jan. 6.