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Internal email: COVID-19 patients in Baptist Health ICU ‘shockingly young’

There’s been a 57% increase in COVID-19 cases in Jacksonville hospitals in the last week

Baptist Health told employees in the email that, like other Jacksonville-area hospitals, it has been experiencing an increase in COVID-19 patients requiring hospitalization.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – In an email sent to Baptist Health employees last week, hospital leaders warned of a resurgence in new cases of the coronavirus and said new patients requiring intensive care in recent days are “shockingly young.”

“We recently lost one patient under age 40,” said the email that was obtained by News4Jax.

Baptist Health told employees in the email that, like other Jacksonville-area hospitals, it has been experiencing an increase in COVID-19 patients requiring hospitalization.

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The email was sent as Florida and the nation started to see more and more cases of the Delta variant of COVID-19 crop up.

Dr. Timothy Groover, chief medical officer at Baptist Health, told News4Jax 98% to 100% of those patients who are requiring hospitalizations are either unvaccinated or partially vaccinated.

Groover said the surge in younger patients could be tied to the rise of the Delta variant.

“Younger, sicker, quicker, that’s what we call the Delta variant,” Groover said. “No one imagined that we would see this number tick up so quickly.”

Baptist Health said half of its now 149 cases, which is 13 more than yesterday, might be the Delta variant.

Groover said the data isn’t available yet, but he believes the virus is also deadlier.

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As of Monday, UF Health was caring for 60 people who were infected with COVID-19, 23 of whom were in the intensive care unit and half of whom are on ventilators. The hospital suspects that 15 other patients are infected, but tests are pending.

Overall, there has been a 57% increase in COVID-19 cases in Jacksonville hospitals in the last week, Groover said.

New infections have spiked in Florida, which reported 23,697 new cases in its weekly situational report last week. That’s nearly double the number of new infections the state reported the week before. Of the new cases, Jacksonville had 2,127, surpassing 2,000 cases in a week for the first time since February.

The Florida Department of Health said Tuesday that 31 cases of the Delta variant had been detected in Duval County as of July 1. According to the agency, data shows the variant makes up 277 of 21,866, or 1%, of sampled cases throughout the state, but experts say that number could be misleading.

“I think there is a certain relaxation that is taking place that’s inappropriate,” Groover said of people wearing masks less often and not social distancing. “I think it’s too soon to let your guard down I think it’s time now as a community to step it up and say we see the spike how are we going to respond to it. Given what we’ve learned the first time around it’s time for us to step up and be responsible.”


About the Author:

Jim Piggott is the reporter to count on when it comes to city government and how it will affect the community.