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‘Get vaccinated,’ hospital leaders stress in COVID roundtable with DeSantis

South Florida’s hospital leaders spoke of their hospitalization numbers being at a manageable level at this point, but they told the governor that the next few weeks bring with them uncertainty.
South Florida’s hospital leaders spoke of their hospitalization numbers being at a manageable level at this point, but they told the governor that the next few weeks bring with them uncertainty.

MIAMI – From South Florida to up north, hospital leaders from across the state stressed the same message Wednesday in a virtual roundtable with Gov. Ron DeSantis: “Get vaccinated.”

Broward Health CEO Shane Strum said 95% of their current COVID-19 patients are unvaccinated.

On the same call, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry said his area is seeing about 99% of hospitalized patients being unvaccinated.

“There’s a lot of discussion. A lot of people are afraid and panicking,” Curry said. “From my perspective, the solution is to get vaccinated.”

South Florida’s hospital leaders spoke of their hospitalization numbers being at a manageable level at this point, but they told the governor that the next few weeks bring with them uncertainty.

“We’re seeing younger people. We’re seeing with a lot less comorbidities,” Jackson Health System CEO Carlos Migoya said. “We are down to 25 percent of our inpatients in ICUs. Other hospitals in South Florida are seeing even less numbers than that, between 15-20% patients in ICUs.

“Is it too early? Are they going to get sicker? Or is it just that they can be less sick? We don’t know at this point.”

Meanwhile, Memorial Healthcare System in Broward announced that, effective Monday, they plan to once again suspend elective procedures “in an effort to conserve critical resources for the care of COVID-19 patients.”

Memorial did not have a representative on the DeSantis roundtable.

Others who did take part in the roundtable included AHCA Secretary Simone Marstiller, Tampa General CEO John Couris, UF Health Shands CEO Ed Jimenez, Orlando Health CEO David Strong and Orlando Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. George Ralls.

WATCH A REPLAY OF THE ROUNDTABLE BELOW:

The conversation came as the more contagious delta variant is spreading exponentially in the state. Florida hit 11,515 hospitalized patients Tuesday, breaking last year’s record for the third straight day and up from just 1,000 in mid-June.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data shows that Florida added more than 50,000 new COVID-19 cases over the past three days, raising the seven-day average to one of the highest counts since the pandemic began. In total, the state has seen more than 2.6 million cases and 39,179 deaths.

DeSantis said Tuesday that he expects hospitalizations to drop in the next couple of weeks, asserting that the spike is seasonal as Floridians spend more time together indoors to escape the summer heat and humidity.

He has also pointed out the far lower mortality rate among COVID patients compared to earlier in the pandemic.

“Even among a lot of positive tests, you are seeing much less mortality that you did year-over-year,” DeSantis said at a Miami-area press conference Tuesday. “Would I rather have 5,000 cases among 20-year-olds or 500 cases among seniors? I would rather have the younger.”

For information on where COVID-19 vaccines and testing are available across South Florida, click here.


About the Authors:

Glenna Milberg joined Local 10 News in September 1999 to report on South Florida's top stories and community issues. She also serves as co-host on Local 10's public affairs broadcast, "This Week in South Florida."

David Selig is the Digital Executive Producer at WPLG, overseeing Local10.com.