COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to rise in Northeast Florida

CLAY COUNTY, Fla. – COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to rise in Northeast Florida.

As of 4:46 p.m. Tuesday, according to Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration, there were 118 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Clay County compared to 61 on Dec. 15. There were 556 people hospitalized in Duval County compared to 286 four weeks prior. In St. Johns County, there were 39 hospitalized compared to 14 last month. And in Nassau County, there were 15 people hospitalized up from nine last month.

At last check, Clay County had roughly 56 hospitalizations per 100,000 residents. That was near the top of the state, along with Duval and Alachua counties, which also had high hospitalization numbers. News4Jax brought this up in the News 4 Clay County Facebook group on Tuesday and got hundreds of responses.

“My grandpa just tested positive for covid on the 5th. He stayed in the hospital for 5 days and is now home on medications and doing wonderful,” wrote one commenter.

Another commenter wrote: “One of our good friends just died. Organ failure- 5 emergency surgeries in 48 hours for internal bleeding from COVID.”

Josh Allen, a podcaster in Clay County, said multiple members of his family contracted COVID-19 before Thanksgiving. Most have recovered, but he still has some family members still battling severe health issues.

“It just sort of like wildfire. One day we didn’t know anybody, the next day it was like the whole family had it,” Allen said. “It spread from me to my wife to both of my sisters and their husbands and one of their children and my mom, also. One of my sisters and my mom ended up with severe complications.

According to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Orange Park Medical Center had an average of 74 hospitalized COVID-19 patients during the first week of January, filling about a quarter of their beds.

A hospital spokesperson said in a statement that the spike for the hospital was worse during the summer:

“Orange Park Medical Center is hard at work caring for many different types of patients but the acuity of the COVID-19 patients we are seeing is lower than what we saw in the peek back in July. We are incredibly proud of our team for providing great care to all of our patients during this time. Their resiliency and commitment shown over the past year has not wavered since the first case in Clay County. We’ve been fortunate to help vaccinate nearly 2,500 healthcare workers over the past couple of weeks and we continue to encourage the community to get vaccinated when they have the opportunity and wear a mask to help stop the spread.”

Checking the data for Ascension St. Vincent’s Clay County, it had roughly 50 patients hospitalized during the first week of January -- more than a third of their beds.

In a statement, the hospital reminded the community to take precautions to slow the spread of the coronavirus and added its working with Clay County officials to hold a community vaccination clinic for residents early next week:

“Ascension St. Vincent’s continues to provide high-quality, compassionate care to anyone in our community who needs it, including to those we serve in Clay County.

“COVID-19 positivity rates and hospitalizations have indeed increased in the region, and we all must do everything we can to slow its spread. This includes social distancing, wearing masks, not gathering in groups, staying home if you feel sick, and washing your hands frequently.

“We also encourage everyone to get vaccinated when they are able to do so. We continue to vaccinate our associates and have also begun scheduling and vaccinating patients who are age 65 and older, according to state and local guidelines. Additionally, we are working with Clay County officials to hold a community vaccination clinic for residents early next week. More info will be shared as plans are solidified.

“COVID-19 remains a significant threat to our community and we must all work together for the safety of all.”

Statewide, according to Florida’s AHCA, there were more than 7,700 people hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Tuesday afternoon.

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