Northeast Florida hospitals returning to COVID-19 peak amid delta variant surge

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Hospital officials successful Northeast Florida are urging radical to get vaccinated arsenic the fig of COVID-19 patients is approaching oregon exceeding levels they saw during the worst of the pandemic amid "rampant" dispersed of the much transmissible delta variant of the coronavirus.

UF Health Jacksonville, successful Florida's astir populous city, has seen an "exponential" emergence successful the fig of COVID-19 patients admitted successful caller weeks, Chad Neilsen, manager of corruption prevention astatine the hospital, told ABC News.

The erstwhile grounds for the highest fig of regular COVID-19 patients crossed its 2 campuses -- 125 -- was acceptable successful January; the infirmary surpassed that 3 days ago, Neilsen said, and is presently astatine 136, with astir 40 radical successful the intensive attraction unit.

Last week, determination were 75 COVID-19 patients successful the hospital, 45 the anterior week and 20 the week earlier that, according to Dr. Leon Haley Jr., CEO of UF Health Jacksonville.

"We knew it was astir apt owed to the delta variant taking a bigger footprint present successful the Northeast Florida portion due to the fact that it was truthful accelerated of an increase," Nielsen said. "Everybody successful municipality is suffering the aforesaid destiny we are."

At the Mayo Clinic's Jacksonville hospital, determination has been a "significant" summation successful COVID-19 hospitalizations implicit the past 3 weeks, "approaching our erstwhile highest numbers," Dr. Ken Thielen, CEO of Mayo Clinic successful Florida, said during a COVID-19 property briefing Wednesday with Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry and different section wellness attraction leaders.

"This represents a five-fold summation successful COVID hospitalizations, and follows galore weeks erstwhile we lone had a fistful of hospitalized COVID patients," Thielen said.

There are different similarities among the area's hospitals -- the COVID-19 patients they are admitting are mostly unvaccinated, and they are younger than what they've antecedently seen during the pandemic.

Among UF Health Jacksonville's COVID-19 patients, 90% are unvaccinated, and astir 70% scope successful property from 40 to 69, Neilsen said. Prior to this surge, 75% of the COVID-19 patients were ages 60 and up, helium said.

"We're decidedly seeing a displacement into a younger demographic of people," helium said.

According to Tom VanOsdol, president and CEO of Ascension Florida and Gulf Coast, which operates a infirmary successful Jacksonville, implicit 96% of its COVID-19 patients are unvaccinated.

"Our median property of our hospitalized patients is 49 -- it was successful the mid-60s successful anterior waves of this pandemic," VanOsdol said during Wednesday's property briefing. "So it's a younger demographic who are not getting vaccinated that unluckily are contracting COVID, and these cases are requiring hospitalization for treatment."

At Baptist Health successful Jacksonville, the COVID-19 patients are "younger, sicker and getting sicker quicker," Chief Medical Officer Dr. Timothy Groover said during the briefing.

In the past month, 44% of COVID-19 patients astatine the infirmary were successful their 40s oregon younger, and "most were antecedently healthy," helium said.

As the delta variant has rapidly go the ascendant variant spreading successful the United States, Florida is 1 of 4 states reporting the highest play COVID-19 lawsuit rates per capita, with implicit 200 cases per 100,000 residents, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As of Monday, the seven-day mean of caller cases went up 107.48% successful Duval County, wherever Jacksonville sits, according to the CDC.

At the aforesaid time, less than fractional of the state's residents are afloat vaccinated, according to the CDC. Rates are lagging successful Duval County, wherever 41% of residents are afloat vaccinated.

"Vaccines are stagnant present successful Northeast Florida, and the delta variant is conscionable moving rampant amongst the unvaccinated folks," Neilsen said.

Neilson attributes the latest surge successful portion to delta's emergence coinciding with Fourth of July gatherings, but said it's hard to foretell wherever hospitalizations mightiness beryllium heading "because it spreads truthful quickly."

Hospitals successful the portion are disquieted astir unit burnout and shortages arsenic the pandemic wears connected and unvaccinated unit are exposed successful the assemblage and besides get sick.

"We're facing a existent staffing situation if this continues," Nielsen said.

The country wellness attraction leaders offered a plea for radical to get vaccinated if they haven't already, and to proceed mask-wearing, societal distancing and hand-washing.

Curry besides urged residents to get vaccinated -- but stopped abbreviated of issuing immoderate restrictions.

"The way to moving beyond the surge and preventing aboriginal ones is expanding our percent of vaccinations," helium said during Wednesday's briefing. "The mathematics is wide -- vaccines work. Restrictions to our system and idiosyncratic freedoms are not the answer. The reply is getting vaccinated."

"Hospitals are afloat and engaged due to the fact that of unvaccinated people, truthful the solution present is to get the vaccine," helium added.

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