JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – After the metropolitan area served by UF Health Jacksonville has seen more 40,000 cases of COVID-19 and 422 associated deaths in six months, the CEO of the medical center shared his experience on what hospitals in the area have seen and what might be coming this fall. More than 26,000 of those cases and 259 deaths have been in Duval County.
While encouraged by recent trends of fewer new cases of coronavirus and associated hospitalizations and deaths, Dr. Leon Haley told Jacksonville City Council members in a teleconference Thursday morning that he is hopeful we can avoid another spike after Labor Day weekend, students back in schools at colleges and sporting events beginning.
“For us, we’ve had 74 deaths in the building and we spent a lot of time making sure we can understand that and how we can continue to improve and get better, given all of this and the potential treatments that are out there,” Haley said. “But what we don’t talk a lot about: we had actually almost 500 people that have survived and gone home and back to their normal lives. We have a nice follow-up system in our clinic system for them to be seen so we can continue to recover.”
Haley also said there are six clinical trials going on in Jacksonville now and they are treating patients for a wider variety of symptoms than they had expected.
“Early on we thought it was purely (a) lung respiratory disease. One of the things we learned (is) it’s more than that,” Haley said. “It’s also begun to affect cardiac activities. We’ve seen a tremendous amount of blood clots in some of our patients.”
Haley said some people who leave the hospital may need to be on blood thinners or other medications to make sure they are OK.
The majority of local COVID-19 patients in Jacksonville are between 50 and 70 years old, 54% are female and many are obese or suffer from diabetes.
At UF Health, 64% are Black.
As of Thursday, there are 43 COVID-19 patients at UF Health Jacksonville. Twelve of those are in intensive care and four are on ventilators. At the beginning of August, the number of virus patients at the medical center topped 100.
Haley says fewer people are being tested in Jacksonville now than in recent weeks. Of those who are, the percent of tests coming back positive is 5.6%. He said that is a good sign but the goal is to get it down to 5% or below.
“Remember that football is going to start. The Jaguars are going to have people in the stands. There’s lots of different variables that might play into the equation,” Haley said about what’s ahead. “Not to blame anybody, but those are different hotspots that we will continue to watch.”
Haley ended his presentation saying that flu season is almost here and the last thing we need is two pandemics at the same time.