2021-09-06 17:01:04 UTC
hospitals in Florida, Texas
For the week ending July 29, 110,477 people tested positive for COVID-
19 in Florida, according to state health officials.
With more than 1,000 COVID patients at hospitals across its six-county
region, Orlandos AdventHealth has suspended non-emergency operations.
A warning from one Texas health expert: "By not getting vaccinated and
doing your part, we risk crashing one of the most advanced health care
systems in the world.
A fourth wave of COVID-19 is threatening to overwhelm U.S. hospitals in
regions where large swaths of unvaccinated people provide little
resistance to the highly contagious delta variant.
Nowhere is the strain more apparent than Florida, which reached a new peak
Tuesday of 11,515 people hospitalized with COVID-19, according to data
from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Hospitals in Jacksonville and Orlando last week crashed through their
pandemic peaks, and hospitals in Miami-Dade County are at or approaching
record coronavirus hospitalizations this week, said Mary Mayhew, CEO of
Florida Hospital Association.
And cases continue to surge, with 110,477 residents testing positive for
the COVID-19 virus for the week that ended July 29, foreshadowing more
people needing hospital care in the weeks ahead.
"The delta variant is ripping through the unvaccinated," Mayhew said.
Across Florida, COVID surge is 'straining our system'
Further stressing hospitals are larger-than-normal volumes of sick people
crowding emergency rooms with non-COVID-19 illnesses, Mayhew said. The
combination has challenged hospitals' capacity to staff enough nurses,
doctors, respiratory therapists and other clinicians to care for the surge
of critically ill patients.
With more than 1,000 coronavirus patients at hospitals across its six-
county region, Orlando's AdventHealth suspended non-emergency operations
last week to free up staff and space. More than 90% of COVID-19 patients
at AdventHealth's hospitals are unvaccinated, and the small number of
vaccinated patients with COVID-19 typically have underlying conditions
such as cancer or autoimmune disease, the hospital said.
"We have peaked above any previous wave and it is straining our system,
our physicians and all of our clinicians," said Neil Finkler, chief
clinical officer of AdventHealth's Central Florida division.
Health First is setting up tents outside the emergency rooms at Holmes
Regional Medical Center and Palm Bay Hospital on Tuesday. The tents will
be used to separate people coming to the ER with COVID symptoms from other
"None of these patients thought they would get the virus. But the delta
variant has proven to be so highly contagious that even the young and the
healthy, including pregnant patients, are starting to fill up our
While hospitals from the Northeast to the Southwest set up temporary field
hospitals during past surges, Mayhew said Florida hospitals are converting
existing hospital space to set up beds. Hospitals are making space in
conference rooms, cafeterias and auditoriums.
Mayhew said converting existing hospital space allows more efficient use
of limited staff rather than scrambling to staff a remote field hospital
in a parking lot or a convention center.
Public health officials have called for tougher measures after the CDC
last week recommended all K-12 students to wear masks in classrooms.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis followed with an executive order blocking mask
mandates in schools and school districts concluded they can't legally
enforce a mask requirement.
'Every staffed bed' is full at some Texas hospitals
In Texas, hospitals are preparing for the steady rise of COVID-19
hospitalizations that are following rising cases counts. Like in Florida,
Texas hospital beds are being filled with unvaccinated COVID-19 patients,
said Angela G. Clendenin, a professor at Texas A&M School of Public
While previous COVID-19 waves mainly involved older and middle-aged adults
with existing health conditions, the new wave is claiming young adults in
their 20s and 30s who need breathing machines in hospital intensive care
units, Clendenin said.
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The result is that hospitals are again preparing for or enacting surge
plans to convert medical wings into intensive care units, she said.
"By not getting vaccinated and doing your part, we risk crashing one of
the most advanced health care systems in the world," Clendenin said.
Hospitals in South Texas are already struggling to keep up with the pace
of sick patients.
South Texas hospitals in Corpus Christi, Victoria, Kingsville, Beeville
and San Antonio have begun diverting patients. In a statement this week,
Nueces County Judge Barbara Canales urged available nurses to fill a
staffing gap amid a surge of COVID-19 patients.
Every staffed bed is full, Canales said. There are beds available but
no nursing staff for them.
While Florida and Texas accounted for one-third of all COVID-19 cases last
week, cases, hospitalizations and deaths are increasing in nearly all
states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In Missouri, which trails only Louisiana in cases per 100,000 residents
over the past seven days, hospitals are preparing for stressful weeks
Hospitalizations during the current delta-driven wave have surpassed last
winter's peak in several communities, said Dave Dillon, a spokesman for
the Missouri Hospital Association.
"The growth in positivity and hospitalization that might have taken months
in 2020 is now happening in weeks with delta," Dillon said. "Were
probably in for a hard summer and fall."