JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – New data from the Department of Health and Human Services shows coronavirus hospitalizations in Florida have tripled in three weeks.
Emergency rooms and ICU beds at local hospitals are filling up, and now, a well-known Jacksonville immunologist is calling on the governor to declare a state of emergency.
-Is it time for Governor to declare a state of emergency/public health emergency in Florida regarding COVID-19 hospitalizations with what we are seeing here? Yes— Sunil Joshi M.D. (@famallergyjax) July 26, 2021
-So we can get some federal help and maybe some extra staff to assist in the hospitals? Yes.
This is serious folks
A state of emergency would free up additional resources like what happens with hurricanes and other emergencies in the state.
Hospital officials throughout Northeast Florida are concerned because they say ERs are filling up, and hospitalizations are largely happening among people who have not been vaccinated.
As of Saturday, the Department of Health and Human Services said 6,639 people were in the hospital with COVID-19 in Florida. That’s an increase of nearly 5,000 people since July 3.
For more perspective, at the height of the pandemic last year -- July 23 -- 10,014 people were hospitalized with the virus.
Baptist Health is treating nearly 390 patients for COVID-19, including more than 80 in the intensive care unit.
The hospital said over 99% of the people hospitalized have not been vaccinated. News4Jax reporters toured the hospital and spoke with patients, including Francisca, a COVID-19 patient. She said she felt bad.
“I cannot breathe good. I have shortness of breath. I feel sorry about not getting a vaccine,” Francisca said.
Francisca said she does not think she would be in the hospital if she were vaccinated.
UF Health Jacksonville on Monday had 175 patients hospitalized with COVID-19, 50 of whom were in the intensive care unit.
That’s up from the 150 hospitalizations on Friday, a number that was already a 1,000% increase in cases since June.
A local immunologist reiterated these hospitalizations are impacting people who also need other types of care.
Dr. Sunil Joshi said the older population is still requiring hospitalization for other things, like heart attacks.
“People still get GI bleeds, people still get appendicitis and break bones and have to go to the hospital,” Joshi said. “And so the hospital is starting to reach capacity, just with COVID-19 patients. What’s it going to do for those other people who also need hospitalization?”
He said that’s why hospitals are looking for some help with a possible state of emergency.
Hospitals throughout Jacksonville are still stressing that wait times are being impacted by this. If what you’re experiencing is not something urgent, like a stroke or heart attack, you could have to wait longer.