Jacksonville hospitals prepared as they anticipate another wave of COVID-19 cases

211 people hospitalized in Duval County with coronavirus as of Monday afternoon

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Two hundred eleven people in Duval County were in the hospital with the coronavirus as of Monday afternoon.

In the last two weeks, that number has increased, and health officials are expecting it to go even higher.

Lines at local testing sites were steady Monday following the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Many, like Mike K., were just wanting to know their status.

“I know a lot of people that have it, and I just want to know where I am with It,” he said.

Area hospitals said they are watching the number of cases increase, though not as high as they were in July. Doctors told News4Jax they are expecting another wave of cases in Jacksonville, as well as across Florida.

For example, at Baptist Health and their five facilities in Northeast Florida, there were 80 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 -- 11 of whom are in the intensive care unit -- at last check.

Dr. Elizabeth Ransom of Baptist Health said she is not surprised to see the numbers increase. She said hospital staffers have learned a lot about the virus and have taken steps to prepare.

“We feel confident we can manage a surge,” Ransom said. “Also, when it comes to hospital beds, we created back in the springtime expansion units that we can put in place very quickly to accommodate large increases in the number of COVID patients.”

At UF Health, there were 36 COVID-19 patients at its two facilities -- nine of whom were in the ICU -- at last check.

Dr. David Caro, disaster medical director at UF Health, said they are thinking ahead. Currently, one wing at the hospital and one ICU area are devoted to COVID-19. He said they are ready to expand if needed.

“We are starting to look at those contingencies and we’re looking at where we’re going to go in the hospital and how we most appropriately use our personnel in particular because that is really the resource that gets maximized,” Caro said.

In two weeks, doctors told News4Jax, we should get a good indication of where this latest surge will head as we see the effects of the Thanksgiving holiday.

In the meantime, before a vaccine is available, and even when it’s distributed, we all need to still mask up and be vigilant, according to health officials.

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