Younger people coming to ER for other reasons, then testing positive for COVID-19

PLANTATION, Fla. – In a period of ten days, Jackson Health System in Miami has doubled the number of patients they have seen coming through their doors.

Carlos A. Migoya, president and CEO of Jackson Health System, says there are some challenges.

“A lot of these people are younger and about 40 percent of them are coming in to Jackson for other reasons,” Migoya said. “They’ve ended up in a car accident or other things, and as we test every patient that comes in, we have found them to be (COVID-19) positive. So they are not necessarily as sick as some of the other ones and many of them are asymptomatic.”

Migoya said it is concerning because the group is unaware they are infected with the disease and only discover they are positive when they come into the emergency room for another ailment.

With 30,196 coronavirus cases in Miami-Dade County and 13,320 cases in Broward County as of June 26, local hospitals are expressing concern.

From June 25 through June 26, Broward residents hospitalized were 1,920, which is 15 percent of all people testing positive for COVID-19 in the county, according to the Florida Department of Health.

In Miami-Dade County, hospitalizations in the same time period were 3,887, which is 13 percent of all cases of people testing positive for the coronavirus.

There’s now a closer focus on areas that are considered hot zones including Allapatah, Little Havana and Brownsville, all in Miami-Dade County.

“We are working on some specific zip codes in Miami-Dade County,” Migoya said.

The rate of hospitalization for people who test positive for the coronavirus in their 20s is under 4%, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For those over 60, the rates go up, to more than 20%. The fatality rate for people in their 20s and 30s without underlying health conditions is about 0.1%.

At Jackson Health System, the intensive care unit has not seen much of an increase and they have been able to balance that while keeping a close eye on those numbers. However, the hospital has had five straight days where they have hovered at the peak number of patients.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has consistently highlighted that the median age of patients being diagnosed with COVID-19 in the state of Florida is dropping.

In short, younger people are testing positive and showing less severe symptoms.

“I think the folks that are going into the hospital now, fortunately, are skewing younger with less acuity,” DeSantis said, noting that the median age of people diagnosed with the virus in the state has dropped to 37. “And obviously we want to keep as many people out [of the hospital] as we can.”

Dr. Aileen Marty, infectious disease expert at Florida International University, says that because the median age is skewing younger, we should not take it lightly.

“Since we’re seeing a higher percentage of individuals who are younger and younger individuals do not tend to get as ill, although we are seeing an increased number of people coming to the hospital and we have been filling up more hospital beds and ICU beds, the bulk of positives are in people who do not require hospitalizations. That’s a misleading way of presenting it,” said Marty.

“It is important that those people with milder symptoms still have tremendously high viral loads and can infect those among us who are more likely to end up in the hospital. It’s just a matter of time when we see increase in hospitalizations from those younger individuals that are positive.”

Speaking at FIU last Friday, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez stressed that while the younger people being diagnosed with COVID-19 are believed to be at a lesser risk for major complications, it’s critical for them to be just as vigilant in following safety measures because they can spread the disease to more vulnerable people.

On Friday, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez made wearing a face mask in public mandatory in Miami. Not wearing one will cost you.

“The first instance, it is a warning,” the mayor said. “The second instance, “it’s a $50 fine. The third instance, It’s a $150 fine, and a fourth, it’s a $500 fine.” He said ultimately, not wearing a mask could be an offense that could lead to an arrest.

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