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As COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to rise, some Jacksonville hospitals say wait times may be longer

As more people are infected with COVID-19, we're taking a look at local hospitalizations and wait times.
As more people are infected with COVID-19, we're taking a look at local hospitalizations and wait times.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The rate of coronavirus cases and the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to climb in Northeast Florida.

Ascension St. Vincent’s said Sunday that “we have seen a notable increase in hospitalized COVID-19 patients in our facilities, which can lead to longer wait times.”

On Sunday, UF Health Jacksonville reported 161 patients were hospitalized with COVID-19. UF Health Jacksonville said wait times are fluctuating and, at times, longer than usual.

Chad Neilsen, UF Health Jacksonville director of accreditation and infection prevention, tweeted Sunday that “we’ve doubled our Covid-19 admissions in just a week.”

As of Sunday, Baptist Health had 364 patients with COVID-19, and 83 in the intensive care unit. Baptist Health said wait times change throughout the day in each of their eight locations and “a patient having an actual emergency such as a heart attack or stroke will be seen right away. Someone suffering from a less critical condition may require a longer wait time.”

“If you go to any hospital or ER right now, we are seeing the highest number of admitted COVID-19 patients than we ever have during this pandemic,” said Dr. Mohammed Reza, a Jacksonville infectious disease specialist. “We’re admitting 20-year-olds, 30-year-olds, 40-year-olds at this point.”

Of these patients, Reza said, more than 90% have not been vaccinated.

“We don’t see light at the end of the tunnel. From all the projections we are seeing, this shoots up rather than leveling off,” Reza said.

Reza said the spike in hospitalized is fueled by the delta variant.

“The delta variant is now the most common variant across the country,” he said. “It is now coming back 83% the time, the virus that is sequenced across the country, it is the delta variant causing this infection, and this is that variant that is 200% plus more infectious than the previous alpha variant.”

Reza said he is encouraging masks for everyone at this point.

“Put that mask on, that well-fitted mask,” he said. “We know that it provides protection right now.”

But he said he is not encouraging municipalities to consider lockdowns.

“We have to get away from this mindset that masks equal lockdowns. That’s the opposite, the exact opposite,” Reza said. “What we’re saying as providers, masks equal healthy constituents and a thriving economy. That’s what we want.”

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry tweeted Sunday that his emergency operations team is collaborating with local hospitals.

A map by Mayo Clinic shows hot spots throughout the state of Florida based on a rolling average of daily cases for the past week. As of Sunday, Duval, Nassau, Baker and Bradford counties were dark red, indicating a higher number of average daily cases per 100,000 people. The map also offers an option to view the 14-day forecast.


About the Author:

An Emmy-nominated TV reporter and weekend anchor.