COVID-19 hospitalizations rise in Florida, data trackers warn

MIAMI – Coronavirus pandemic data trackers warn there was an increase of 30% in COVID-19 patients who required hospitalization in the past two weeks in Florida.

The pandemic continues to test hospitals’ resources. Nurses and doctors have bared the brunt of the upward trend in cases, so they are bracing for the possibility of a surge in new hospitalizations as a result of the holiday travel season.

“It is kind of frightening for us because we have been at this for a long time and our nurses are getting a little bit tired,” said Maggie Hansen, the senior vice president and chief nurse executive at the Memorial Healthcare System. “We want to make sure our nurses on the frontline don’t wear out.”

Data shows the 30% increase was a rise from 3,118 new hospitalizations to 4,059 in the past two weeks, according to the COVID Tracking Project, a volunteer organization launched by journalists at The Atlantic.

The COVID Tracking Project reports 55,393 people have been hospitalized for COVID-19 treatment since the state started to gather data on the pandemic.

The trackers’ data shows there were 4,059 hospitalized in Florida on Sunday. Florida’s highest test on capacity was after the Fourth of July when daily hospitalizations ranged from 6,974 on July 10 to 9,520 on July 21st, the data shows.

David Zarco, the communications manager, at Baptist Health South Florida, released a statement on Monday afternoon reporting there has been a steady increase in COVID-19 cases at the system’s 11 hospitals during the last few weeks.

“We have the ability to move patients and staff across our organization as needed, which has proven effective in our ability to manage volume during peaks,” Zarco said.

Hansen said Memorial Healthcare System already has 100 traveling nurses who were hired just before Thanksgiving to help through December. And to deal with a possible peak after the holiday season, Hansen said the system is planning to hire more respiratory therapists in January.

“Nurses are applauded as the heroes that don’t wear capes and they love being celebrated as heroes but what they really want right now is the respect of people following the science,” Hansen said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned it’s safer to stay home. Epidemiologists are asking travelers to take precautions since adults and children may spread the virus to other people for 14 days after being exposed to it — even if they are not experiencing symptoms.

South Florida totals

MIAMI-DADE: Hospitalizations: 8,596 since the start of the pandemic. Residents: 8,542. Non-Residents: 54.

BROWARD: Hospitalizations: 6,807 since the start of the pandemic. Residents: 6,713. Non-Residents: 94.

PALM BEACH: Hospitalizations: 4550 since the start of the pandemic. Residents: 4,493. Non-Residents: 57.

MONROE: Hospitalizations: 175 since the start of the pandemic. Residents: 169. Non-Residents: 6.

Source: The Florida Department of Health dashboard.

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About the Authors:

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."

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.