Coronavirus: Deaths and hospital admissions are dire warning signs, experts say

A rising number of people are being admitted with COVID-19, which experts hope serves as a warning sign in this critical juncture of the pandemic.

MIAMI – Jackson South’s ICU medical director speaks with concern and candor about his experience on the frontlines of this on-going fight against COVID-19.

“My most recent covid death was last night — he was a 46-year-old father of two,” Dr. Andrew Pastewski says. “We are seeing more cases. We are getting better, but we are still seeing the deaths.”

Pastewski says the difficult calls to weeping family members of patients who didn’t survive “eats away aggressively at someone’s soul when they have to do that over and over.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Florida has the fourth-highest total of COVID-19 deaths.

Data shows as the number of positive cases rise, more of us in South Florida — especially in Miami-Dade County — are getting so sick that a trip to the hospital is required.

“Our admissions have been steadily going up and up and up,” said Dr. Aileen Marty, an infectious disease expert at FIU. “Right now we are not at the overcrowded stage that we could get to. ... If we want to avoid a more serious type of measure such as a lockdown, we absolutely have to get 100% serious about not transmitting the COVID-19.”

On Tuesday, the CDC said: “Adopting universal masking policies can help avert future lockdowns, especially if combined with other non-pharmaceutical interventions such as social distancing, hand hygiene and adequate ventilation.”

“Those things can keep our economy alive and keep us from getting ill,” Marty said.

Dr. Pastewski says: “To know that there are simple measures like wearing a mask, washing your hands, staying 6-feet away, trying not to gather indoors, simple things that can be done to prevent those of us from making those phone calls multiple times a day, it hurts that not more people are willing to do that for us.”

Marty said another issue they are monitoring is the number of people who fall ill with COVID-19, don’t require a hospital stay, but are still facing long-term health impacts.

“Way too many people who have not needed to be in the hospital are still having long-term complications,” she said. “In fact somewhere about 20-25-percent.”

She also spoke about the growing questions about herd immunity, after Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber accused Gov. Ron DeSantis of trying that approach of allowing the virus to spread.

“Letting something like this on the loose is simply not going to work,” Marty said.

About the Author:

Christina returned to Local 10 in 2019 as a reporter after covering Hurricane Dorian for the station. She is an Edward R. Murrow Award-winning journalist and previously earned an Emmy Award while at WPLG for her investigative consumer protection segment "Call Christina."