Doctors staged a mass walkout from Florida hospitals on Monday in protest of the number of unvaccinated people flooding their ICUs after being infected with COVID.

The symbolic moment took place in Palm Beach Gardens just before the sun came up, and was meant to show the community and the world how frustrating the situation they are currently dealing with is. 

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“We are exhausted,” said Dr. Rupesh Dharia. “Our patience and resources are running low and we need your help.”

Florida is in a COVID crisis right now, with a record number of new cases and deaths even higher than the numbers reached in 2020. But still, Republican governor Ron DeSantis is holding firm against mask mandates in schools and other precautions that might stop the spread.

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And the impact of these decisions is apparent. Florida hospitals are at roughly 85% capacity and doctors say the majority of COVID cases resulting in hospitalization are among the unvaccinated.

“The vaccine still remains the most effective and reliable way to stop this madness,” said Dr. Leslie Diaz.

The decision among these doctors to stage a walkout has still sparked some controversy online, albeit mainly among those who don’t understand the walkout was symbolic and the doctors are, in fact, still treating people — including unvaccinated COVID patients.

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The doctors’ ultimate goal with their walkout was to encourage people to get vaccinated so that fewer people get sick and the hospitals aren’t so overwhelmed with COVID patients — something that is absolutely achievable right now if anti-vaxxers just pull it together.

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

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*First Published: August 24, 2021, 8:05 am