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75% of Jacksonville hospital beds full before flu patients arrive

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Public health experts and hospital administrators are watching hospital bed capacity even closer as COVID-19 cases rise and flu season beginning.

On Tuesday afternoon, the Agency of Health Care Administration reported 3,780 people are hospitalized in Florida with a primary diagnosis of COVID-19. Of those, 211 were in Duval County hospitals. The data show 25% of regular and intensive-care beds are available in Jacksonville hospitals.

News4Jax found that UF Health had 28 COVID-19 hospitalizations two weeks ago and 30 now. There are 75 people hospitalized with COVID-19 between all five Baptist Health hospitals, with seven patients in the ICU.

The added threat of flu season this year prompted the creation of FluVaxJax, which is pushing to increase the number of adult influenza vaccinations to keep people healthy and ensure local hospitals aren’t overwhelmed.

Joshi says the city’s FluVax Jax Program is eventually expected to reach its goal, of at least 48% of adults getting vaccinated. Joshi said he doesn’t want a recently announced COVID vaccine to overshadow concerns about the flu.

“We are definitely on track to reach that 48% and, if we keep going at the clip that we are going, we should reach that by the beginning of January,” Joshi said. “I think that we need to be careful because we’re getting to the holidays. People forget about the importance of the flu vaccine, in particular the COVID vaccine, which will be coming out in the coming months. So the flu vaccine takes the back burner and that would be the wrong approach.”

Joshi says local epidemiologists will be on the lookout for an uptick in COVID-19 cases one to two weeks after the Thanksgiving holiday.


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