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Covid Hospitalizations Up 22% In Florida, More Vaccine Spots Opening: Your Tuesday Update

AdventHealth began offering the Moderna vaccine Tuesday at its campuses in Waterman and DeLand. (Courtesy AdventHealth)


The number of patients in the hospital with a primary diagnosis of COVID-19 has increased by 22 percent in the last two weeks, and some hospitals are reporting zero open ICU beds.

According to the state’s dashboard, 6,268 patients are in the hospital with COVID-19 as of Tuesday afternoon. That’s an increase of more than 1,100 patients since December 15.

“We have about 600 total patients in our hospitals, from Polk all the way to Flagler counties,” said Dr. Amay Parikh, a critical care doctor with AdventHealth Orlando. “And we continue to see a steady increase of corona cases in our hospitals. And with back-to-back holidays of Christmas and New Years, we’re ready in case there is an increase.”

Ten hospitals in Central Florida have zero beds available in their intensive care units, according to the state, including hospitals in Brevard, Osceola, Seminole, Volusia and Marion counties. Even though individual hospitals may not have open ICU beds, other hospitals in each county do.

Overall, Florida has been averaging 9,657 cases per day in the last week. That’s a drop from the week prior, but on par with two weeks ago. However, many state-run testing sites were shut down several days last week for the holidays, which could be masking the number of cases.

The rate of positive COVID-19 tests has been trending up, and is nearing 10 percent.

Health care officials are asking residents to keep washing their hands, wearing masks and socially distancing through the holidays, even as residents 65 and older are now able to get the vaccine in many counties. So far, Orange, Seminole, Brevard and Osceola are all taking appointments or have begun vaccinating older residents.

Orange County has the third highest number of people in Florida who have gotten a COVID-19 vaccine. But the state’s report does not give a full snapshot of who is getting the vaccine.

COVID-19 has had a disproportionate impact on Hispanic Floridians. According to Johns Hopkins University, Hispanic and Latino Floridians account for 26 percent of the population, but 40 percent of all COVID-19 cases

Overall, more than 122,000 Floridians have gotten the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. But the state’s vaccine report does not report ethnicity.

That means we don’t know what percentage of the vaccine is going to Hispanic and Latino Floridians. And more than 21,000 doses of the vaccine were given to people of unknown race.

Dr. Steven Smith, AdventHealth’s Chief Scientific Officer, said AdventHealth does collect ethnicity information, even if it’s not visible on the state’s public dashboard.

“We keep data on everything,” Smith said. “So as that reporting system probably will be updated, we’ll be able to respond to that as well. I can say this. We are fully committed to equitable distribution. Nobody is cutting the line.”

One statistic that is known: Black Floridians have gotten 6 percent of the vaccine doses so far – despite being 16 percent of the population.

 


WMFE is a partner with Health News Florida, a statewide collaborative reporting on health care.

Health reporting on WMFE is supported in part by AdventHealth.

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Abe Aboraya

About Abe Aboraya

Health Reporter

Abe Aboraya started writing for newspapers in High School. After graduating from the University of Central Florida in 2007, he spent a year traveling and working as a freelance reporter for the Seattle Times and the Seattle Weekly, and working for local news websites in the San Francisco Bay area. Most recently Abe ... Read Full Bio »

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